Discovering that touch is important for the side-effects of a medicine for premature babies with respiratory problems. This is what Sanne Claessens finds so fascinating about fundamental research in medical pharmacology. PhD defence 27 June.
Claessens studied the effect of dexamethason, a synthetic stress hormone in common use in premature babies with respiratory problems. Dexamethason has a positive effect on the development of the baby's lungs, but it also has negative effects, for example on learning performance later in life. Animal experiments have even indicated a reduced life expectancy. In her animal experiments, Claessens indeed observed short-term side-effects on the development of the brain, effects that could be mitigaged by the use of another medicine administered locally in the brain. The long-term side-effects were shown to be much less negative than Claessens had expected on the basis of earlier research. This can be attributed to the fact that several different factors are at play.
New to pharmacology
Claessens: 'The effect of dexamethason is influenced by environmental factors.'