NIH awards $5.59 million research grants to prevent and treat cerebral palsy

The National Institutes of Health is supporting a Wayne State University School of Medicine physician-researcher's work at preventing and treating cerebral palsy in the form of two new five-year R01 grants worth a collective $5.59 million.

The principal investigator on both projects is Sidhartha Tan, M.D., professor and co-division chief of Neonatology in the Department of Pediatrics.

Cerebral palsy is a group of disorders that affect a person's ability to move and maintain balance and posture. CP is the most common motor disability in childhood, caused by abnormal brain development or damage to the developing brain that affects a person's ability to control his or her muscles.

Dr. Tan obtained his first R01 last May for "Potent Neuronal Nitric Oxide Synthase Inhibition for Prevention of Cerebral Palsy," which will provide $2,393,590 over the half-decade award period to test new, promising drugs aimed at a preventive cure for the condition.

These are new drugs aimed at brain condition called neuronal nitric oxide synthase. New information about how these drugs act, how they affect brain cells and how effective they are in an animal model of cerebral palsy will be very valuable for future translation to clinical use in humans throughout the world."

Sidhartha Tan, M.D, Professor and Principal Investigator, Co-Division Chief of Neonatology, Department of Pediatrics, Wayne State University

His second, a multiple principal investigator award launched Dec. 15, is "Probing Role of Tetrahydrobiopterin in Cerebral Palsy by Using Transgenic Rabbits." The grant will provide $3,197,644 in funding over five years to explore whether an essential enzyme co-factor is involved in brain injury before birth. The cellular and genetic basis of brain regional injury will be investigated using an animal model in which genes have been altered by genetic engineering methods, as well as advanced methods of magnetic resonance imaging.

Dr. Tan will work with Jie Xu, Ph.D., at the University of Michigan and Jeannette Vasquez Vivar, Ph.D., at the Medical College of Wisconsin, who are his co-investigators on the project.

"The studies will lead to a better understanding of how treatment with the same co-factor can reverse the movement disorders caused by insults to the fetal brain before birth," Dr. Tan added.

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