Perinatal brain injury often results in severe developmental disabilities, including neurodevelopmental delay and cerebral palsy. Furthermore, three to five per 1,000 infants experience brain injury caused by hypoxia-ischemia (HI), or insufficient blood flow to cells and organs, at birth. The resulting neurodevelopmental disabilities can place a lifelong burden on parents and society.
Toward determining the most effective treatment strategies for full-term and premature infants exposed to HI and other perinatal brain injury, Barbara Stonestreet, MD, a neonatal-perinatal specialist at Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island, a Care New England hospital, and professor of pediatrics at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, has received two two-year grants totaling $881,100 from the National Institutes of Health. The grants are entitled, "Beneficial effects of inter-alpha inhibitors in fetal brain injury" and "Inter-alpha inhibitors: Novel neuroinflammatory modulator of neonatal brain injury." Collaborating with Dr. Stonestreet on these programs will be Yow-Pin Lim, MD, PhD, founder and CEO of ProThera Biologics. ProThera Biologics is pioneering the application of Inter-alpha inhibitor proteins (IAIPs) to severe inflammatory diseases including HI. In addition, Xiaodi Chen, MD, PhD who is a member of Dr. Stonestreet's team and an assistant professor at Brown, has significantly contributed in writing these grants.
IAIPs are known to be effective in modulating inflammatory responses. However, Dr. Stonestreet explained, there is limited information regarding the neuroprotective properties of IAIPs, which could be beneficial in treating full-term and premature infants suffering from perinatal brain injury.
Dr. Stonestreet said, "These studies have exciting translational potential for an important new treatment strategy to prevent or decrease brain injury in infants at risk for brain damage, mental retardation or cerebral palsy."
Dr. Lim added, "ProThera is extremely pleased to be collaborating on this critical work. This is such an unmet medical need, and Dr. Stonestreet and her team of researchers at Women & Infants Hospital are world leaders in addressing the needs of these patients."