22 May 2023

Congratulations to the ‘Find a Friend’ seed grant recipients

Congratulations to the latest ‘Find a Friend’ grant recipients, Drs Matt Hudon and Joshua Allen (‘Psilocybin as a treatment for traumatic brain injury’), and Drs Muhammad Shahid Javaid and Antonia Reale (‘Extracellular vesicles from epilepsy patient-derived neurons promote epileptogenesis and drug resistance: uncovering new drug targets’). Each partnership received a seed grant of $25,000 from the Department of Neuroscience to complete their projects.

The Department of Neuroscience launched their inaugural ‘Find a Friend’ initiative in 2021 to provide funding for two Early Career Researchers or late stage (final year) PhD students to undertake a small (pilot) research project over 12 months. The successful awardees will not only gain skills in developing collaborative partnerships, but also will build their careers as expert researchers in their field, and use the findings from their projects to enable larger funding opportunities.

Learn more about this round’s successful projects below.

Psilocybin as a treatment for traumatic brain injury

Dr Matt Hudson (Epilepsy and Behaviour Group, Neuroscience) and Dr Joshua Allen (Monash Trauma Group, Neuroscience)

Matt Hudson (left) and Joshua Allen (right)

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a multifaceted disorder induced by an external mechanical force to the brain. It is a leading cause of death and disability worldwide, and there are no treatments to improve long-term recovery. 

This novel study will be the first to examine the effect of low-dose psilocybin treatment on chronic TBI outcomes. The study is very timely, as psilocybin was recently granted a breakthrough therapy designation, and has approval to be used as a medicine to treat mental health issues in Australia from 1 July 2023.

Given that clinical trials with psilocybin as a treatment for major depression are currently underway at Monash University, positive outcomes with psilocybin in this study have significant potential to be rapidly translated into clinical practice. 

Extracellular vesicles from epilepsy patient-derived neurons promote epileptogenesis and drug resistance: uncovering new drug targets

Dr Muhammad Shahid Javaid (Stem Cells Group, Neuroscience) and Dr Antonia Reale (ACBD)

 Muhammad Shahid Javaid (left) and Antonia Reale (right).

Around 70 million people worldwide have epilepsy and more than 30 percent of patients are drug-resistant. Drug resistance is currently an unmet need due to the lack of pathological understanding, which is in turn a result of the limited availability of brain tissue and the absence of disease models with human-specific receptors to develop new drugs. Human stem cell models are ideal to cover these limitations.

Interactions between neurons and astrocytes are critical for the complete functionality of the brain and central nervous system. The disturbances of these neuron-astrocyte interactions due to the uptake of pathogenic Extracellular Vesicles (EVs, nano-sized membrane vesicles), released from mutated neurons, by the healthy neurons and astrocytes are likely to negatively impact the neurologic functions.

To investigate the role of EVs in disease progression and treatment, the study will utilise iPSC-derived neurons from patients with drug-resistant epilepsy and healthy controls. The neuron-derived EVs will help to investigate intracellular pathogenic effects of the mutated neurons versus control (naive) neurons in the presence and absence of astrocytes, which could lead to the discovery of new drug targets.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thankyou for your comment. We moderate all messages and may take a little time to review your comment. Please email inquiries to ccs.comms@monash.edu.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...