Watch Dr Jamie Beros accept the research grant award and hear a bit about the project.
The central nervous system, which includes the brain and spinal cord, has limited capacity to repair itself after traumatic brain injury. When damaged brain cells die, they are not readily replaced, and damage can spread to regions next to the injury site, increasing the loss of brain cells and impact of the original injury. Therefore, interventions that promote brain cell survival are essential to improving recovery and preserving quality of life outcomes following injury.
A promising method of keeping brain cells healthy is to increase their supply of neurotrophins, proteins produced and released by active brain cells that can affect neighbouring cells in the brain and improve survival after injury. Our project will use an exciting and cutting-edge neuroscience technique termed optogenetics to control the activity of brain cells using light stimulation following traumatic brain injury. Our goal is to use this technique to activate surviving brain cells at and surrounding the injury site to promote the production of neurotrophins. We will measure the quantity of neurotrophins produced in response to this form of stimulation and whether this intervention can promote the survival of damaged brain cells, prevent the spread of injury and improve brain function and repair. This project will provide important insight into how we can keep brain cells alive after injury to preserve brain function in the short and long-term.