NIH Funds Research Projects on Treatments for Perinatal Brain Injury

NIH Funds Research Projects on Treatments for Perinatal Brain Injury

Neonatal-perinatal specialist Dr. Barbara Stonestreet, of Women & Infants Hospital, in Rhode Island, received two grants recently from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to determine the most effective treatments for full-term and premature infants exposed to hypoxia-ischemia and other perinatal brain injuries.

Hypoxia-ischemia (HI) is described as insufficient blood flow to cells and organs, at birth, which often leads to severe developmental or cognitive delays, or motor impairments. Up to 10 percent of cerebral palsy cases are caused by HI, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Barbara S. Stonestreet, MD
Credit: Women & Infants Hospital

Stonestreet, who is also a professor of pediatrics at The Warren Alpert Medical School at Brown University, received the 2-year NIH grants totaling $881,100 for her project proposals “Beneficial effects of inter-alpha inhibitors in fetal brain injury” and “Inter-alpha inhibitors: Novel neuroinflammatory modulator of neonatal brain injury.”

“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,” Stonestreet said in a press release.

Collaborating with Stonestreet will be Dr. Yow-Pin Lim, founder and CEO of ProThera Biologics. ProThera is pioneering the application of inter-alpha inhibitor proteins (IAIPs) for the treatment of severe inflammatory diseases including HI.

IAIPs play an important role in the regulation of immune responses. They have been found to be effective in modulating inflammatory responses, though information about their neuroprotective properties is lacking. Stonestreet believes, however, that they would be useful to treat full-term and premature infants with perinatal brain injury.

Lim said ProThera is “extremely pleased” to collaborate on the project.

“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,” Lim said.