We provide full or part funding for studentships and projects.
The Neurosciences Foundation provides funds for small projects that help researchers to get preliminary data to improve their bids to larger funding bodies. We were therefore delighted when our £9.6K award for a stroke study lead by Professor Keith Muir at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow led to a £250K grant. Some strokes are caused by a large clot from the heart blocking blood supply to the brain. Current practice is to attempt to remove the clot, but only if this can be done within 4.5 hours of onset of the stroke. Prof Muir’s team are exploring whether this time window could be extended to 24 hours. Clearly, the sooner treatment is applied the better. ‘Time is brain’ should still be the slogan, but perhaps there could be some benefit for patients up to 24 hours. We eagerly await the results of the full study.
Prevention of stroke
There are two types of stroke; clots in the blood supply that prevent nutrients getting to brain tissue, and leakages from blood vessels that lead to internal bleeding. This studentship focusses on the second of these, which is the cause of around 13% of all strokes. The team will be exploring the potential of materials derived from parasitic worms that have been shown to have the properties needed to stop the leakage of blood. The team is led by Dr Hilary Carswell at the University of Strathclyde.
We are supporting Dr Rajeev Krishnadas and his colleagues who are using advanced medical imaging techniques to study information circuits in the brain in patients presenting with schizophrenia. One of the challenges that the researchers are facing is to study the patients before they get antipsychotic drug treatment as that could affect the pattern of brain activity. They are making good progress.
Stroke, head injury and Alzheimer’s Disease
The researchers are Dr Kristin Flegal who came to Glasgow University from the University of California and Dr Will McGeown at Strathclyde University. They are developing self-help strategies to limit the effects of memory loss in these patients. The technique being explored in this project is called adaptive training, where the level of difficulty of training tasks increases throughout the training period. We like this study as it aims to give the subjects some ownership of their condition rather than just relying on drugs.
Early detection of deterioration in children who have had a head injury
This project is led by consultant neurosurgeon Mr Roddy O’Kane and clinical scientist Dr Ian Piper. This award helped them to set up a European network to investigate why patients often develop unexpected complications after head injuries. The network has been established successfully and has Centres in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Liverpool, Oxford, Nottingham, Newcastle, Barcelona, Leuven (Belgium) and Iasi (Romania) plus Bristol, London (St George’s), Manchester, Riga in Latvia, and Bucharest in Romania. As a result of the initial study that we funded, further grant income was secured. In particular the researchers were awarded an EU Grant of 600K Euro’s from the EU ERA-NET-NEURON programme to undertake studies using the network infrastructure.
Some of our past projects
1) Brain Cancer.
Dr Sarah Derby, Dr Ross Carruthers, Dr Joanna Birch and Prof Anthony Chalmers have completed a project in brain cancer with the help of funding from the Neurosciences Foundation.
Cancer treatments are designed to kill tumour cells but the DNA damage repair mechanisms in the body interfere with this. This has led to the use of DNA damage repair inhibitors. ATR inhibitor (ATRi) is one such substance. It is knows that glioblastoma cells spread from the original tumour site, and this is one reason why it is such a difficult condition to treat. However, it had been postulated that ATRi might limit this spread. This series of experiments was designed to get a better understanding of this process.
They have succeeded in doing this and the results have been submitted for peer review to a high impact journal. The group are planning to take this work forward to clinical trials.
2) Acute stroke. Assessment and therapy combined.
The original award of ~£10,000 from NSF has so far led to a further £1.6M grant income, 5 full peer reviewed publications and formation of a spinout company – Aurum Biosciences. The company has raised over £3M from investors in the UK and USA. The project aims to establish methods of assessing tissue metabolism in regions of the brain after a stroke by administering a material called ABL101 to patients and then using MRI scanning. The ABL101 enables regions of low metabolism to be identified. However, there could well be a bonus, as it should also improve the delivery of oxygen to parts of the brain that are compromised. Techniques like this are called ‘theragnostics’ because of the potential for both diagnosis and therapy. Clinical trials are underway.Further information is available at http://www.aurumbiosciences.com
3) Cognitive impairment in Parkinson’s Disease is multifactorial: A neuropsychological study
Click to read the Final Report by Callum Smith – June 2020
4) Memory training for stroke and head injury patients
Click to read the Final Report by Drs Flegal and McGeown – November 2020
5) Research In The Intensive Care Units
Funding from the Neurosciences Foundation enabled Dr Ian Piper to obtain preliminary data that helped to secure a €2.3M framework 7 grant from the European Union.
6) Brain Tumour Project
The Neurosciences Foundation raised £150,000 to support the pioneering work of Professor Moira Brown, who demonstrated that a modified version of the HSV virus that causes cold sores could selectively destroy rapidly dividing cancer cells and not normal brain cells.