Neuroprotection against neonatal stroke and asphyxia

Despite enormous progress in obstetrical and neonatal medicine in the past decades, neonatal stroke (1/4000 term neonates) and neonatal asphyxia (1-5/1000) remain major causes of newborn mortality and neurological morbidity being the leading causes for cerebral palsy, associated to neurological deficits such as epilepsy and mental retardation.
The discovery of safe and effective pharmacological treatments for perinatal stroke and asphyxia remains an unsolved problem in neonatology. Despite considerable progress in the analysis of signalling pathways leading to cell death, and in the ability to inhibit these pathways, neuroprotection is difficult to obtain in clinically relevant situations, and up to now the only recognized therapeutical approach in human asphyctic babies is moderate hypothermia for 72h.

Our group associates a basic researcher Julien Puyal (PhD) and a clinical neonatologist, Anita Truttmann (MD), in the hope of bringing together basic and clinical insights for the development of neuroprotection. The brain damage in perinatal stroke and neonatal asphyxia is usually due to cerebral ischemia or hypoxia-ischemia, and the main underlying cellular mechanism is excitotoxicity. For these reasons, our research is focused on excitotoxicity (for details see research page 1) and neonatal cerebral hypoxia-ischemia (for details see research page 2).

The overall aim of our research is to find new targets for neuroprotection in neonatal cerebral ischemia and then to propose in the future new therapeutic strategies at the clinical level.