Latest Grants

NEUROLOGICAL FOUNDATION RESEARCH APPROVED DECEMBER 2016  

Grants totalling $1,382,529 were approved by the Neurological Foundation Council on 1 December 2016.

Educational travel grants were awarded in addition to the below.  

Project Grant

$11,788

Dr Justin Dean Department of Physiology, University of Auckland December 2016

Promoting myelination for functional recovery after subcortical white matter stroke – development of an endothelin-1 animal model

Investigating a specific pathway in the brain involved in movement recovery after stroke using a rat model

Stroke is a leading cause of adult disability, affecting 8,000 New Zealanders each year. Recovery of movement is crucial to regaining independence after stroke. Although no two strokes are exactly alike, New Zealand researchers Professor Winston Byblow and Associate Professor Cathy Stinear, co-investigators on this project, have demonstrated that motor recovery occurs to almost exactly 70% of the maximum possible for the majority of stroke patients, provided a key pathway in the brain is intact. This project will establish an animal model to investigate the mechanisms of recovery along this pathway in the brain. This will allow the research team to identify novel therapeutic targets which may raise the recovery ceiling above 70%.

Project Grant

$11,640

Dr David Moreau School of Psychology, University of Auckland December 2016

Enhancing cognition: brain networks underlying effective training interventions

A pilot study to test a training intervention paradigm for cognitive improvements in children with neurodevelopmental disorders   

One in five children faces difficulty learning because of an underlying disorder such as ADHD, dyslexia, dyscalculia and dyspraxia. No matter how hard they try, these children have to overcome major hurdles to succeed academically. Claims of cognitive enhancement using behavioural training have recently sparked interest, given their potential to elicit wide-ranging improvements along with very few side effects. Dr Moreau and colleagues have developed a training intervention that has the potential to alleviate some of the negative effects of neurodevelopmental disorders. This initiative places the culmination of decades of research at the service of remediation. While typical interventions targeting learning disorders come at it from a single angle, Dr Moreau and his team are tackling this problem on multiple fronts. Their unique approach combines a blend of exercise with a software regimen tailored to each individual. Ultimately, this work could also impact remediation of the injured and ageing brain, paving the way for novel therapeutic interventions.

Project Grant

$145,947

Dr Bronwyn Kivell School of Biological Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington December 2016

Investigating the therapeutic potential of novel kappa opioids for the treatment of multiple sclerosis

Investigating new drug compounds for the treatment of multiple sclerosis in two pre-clinical models

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a debilitating neurological disease with no cure. In MS the body’s own immune system attacks and destroys the protective myelin coating surrounding nerve cells causing a variety of symptoms such as fatigue and muscle weakness, and ultimately leads to paralysis. Recently, a new therapeutic target called the kappa opioid receptor was shown to activate the cells that repair damaged myelin. A drug that activated this protein was shown to reverse paralysis in pre-clinical models of MS. Dr Kivell’s study has access to a library of novel kappa opioid compounds with increased potency, improved pharmacokinetic properties and significantly fewer side effects compared with the drug used in the previous study. Dr Kivell and co-investigators including Associate Professor Anne La Flamme, will test these new compounds in two models of MS and evaluate the mechanisms underlying the therapeutic effects of these novel drugs. If successful, this research has potential to significantly improve the quality of life of MS patients globally.

Project Grant

$115,056

Associate Professor Cathy Stinear Department of Medicine, University of Auckland December 2016

Spontaneous recovery of sensorimotor impairment after stroke

Recovery of movement and sensation after stroke – the 70% rule 

Stroke affects more than 8,000 New Zealanders each year and is a leading cause of adult disability. Clinical neuroscientist Associate Professor Cathy Stinear and colleagues Professors Alan Barber and Winston Byblow recently made the remarkable discovery that patients routinely recover 70% of the movement they have lost after stroke. This 70% rule applies to all patients, provided a key pathway in the brain is preserved, regardless of their age or how much therapy they complete. This suggests that a fundamental biological process is at work, which is yet to be identified. In this study, Associate Professor Stinear and co-investigators Professors Barber and Byblow will use neurophysiology and neuroimaging techniques to explore the processes underlying the 70% rule. The team will also be the first to study the recovery of sensory function, to see whether it also follows the 70% rule. Understanding the processes responsible for spontaneous recovery will identify new therapeutic targets to improve recovery after stroke.

 

The C and N Anderson Summer Studentship

$6,000

Eli Shaul Department of Anatomy with Medical Imaging, University of Auckland December 2016

Optimising lipid antibodies to assess changes in Alzheimer’s disease hippocampus

Identifying the involvement of lipids in Alzheimer’s disease
 

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia and accounts for approximately 60% of all dementia cases in New Zealand. It is estimated that 28,000 New Zealanders are living with AD. The key to better treatments is a greater understanding of the pathogenesis and brain changes that occur in this disease. Though amyloid plaques and tau tangles are the pathological hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease, there is also evidence of the involvement of lipids in AD pathology. Lipids are naturally occurring organic compounds and the human brain is the most lipid-rich organ in the human body. In this project Mr Shaul will optimise a new method of detecting lipid changes in the brain that will allow correlation between other technological techniques that also detect lipid changes. The overall aim is to understand which lipids are affected in AD as a first step to manipulating them to better treat Alzheimer’s disease.

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