Hydrocephalus | Action Medical Research | Children's Charity | Children's Charity

Hydrocephalus – identifying new treatments

This research was completed on 25 September 2008

Project LeaderProfessor M Thoresen MD PhD FRCPCH
LocationDepartment of Clinical Science at South Bristol, University of Bristol, Clinical Science at South Bristol, St Michael's Hospital, Bristol, University of Bristol Medical School, Southmead Hospital, Bristol, Neuropathology Department, Frenchay Hospital, Bristol
Grant awarded7 July 2005
Start date25 January 2006
End date25 September 2008
Grant amount£94,782.00
Grant codeSP4078

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Bleeding in the brain remains a serious complication of premature birth. In about two thirds of cases, bleeding results in hydrocephalus (water on the brain) – a condition when the fluid produced within the brain is produced more quickly than it can be reabsorbed, resulting in increased pressure in the skull and progressive expansion of the brain and head. Each year in the UK, there are several hundred new cases of hydrocephalus, and the high rate of life-long disability means that the burden to the community is considerable. Many infants with hydrocephalus develop cerebral palsy and multiple disability. Life-long dependence on a "shunt", a special tube inserted surgically to drain fluid from the brain to the abdomen, creates further risks to the infant. There is currently no safe, effective treatment for this condition. With a previous Action Medical Research grant, this group developed a laboratory model of this condition which contributed to improved understanding of the mechanisms behind hydrocephalus and resulting disability. The group will now use this model to test the efficiency of two drugs already approved for use in other diseases. The team hopes to identify the first safe, non-surgical treatment for hydrocephalus, thus avoiding the need for shunt surgery and reducing the incidence of cerebral palsy.

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