Research Grant - 2022

Research Category: Paediatric Neurology

A/Prof Mary Tolcos was the recipient of Brain Foundation grant funding in 2022

Paediatric Neurology

Paediatric Neurology
“Mini-brains” as personalised medicine tools for cerebral palsy
A/Prof Mary Tolcos
Co-Investigators : Dr Anita Quigley, A/Prof Atul Malhatra, Dr Bobbi Fleiss

Watch A/Prof Mary Tolcos accept the research grant award and hear a bit about the project.

Project Summary:

Cerebral palsy is a brain disorder that affects an individual’s movement, posture, and balance, and is the most common movement disability in childhood. Babies born too early, or preterm, are at a greater risk of sustaining brain injury that can then lead to the development of cerebral palsy. The precise processes that occur in the infant brain to lead to cerebral palsy are not fully understood, and there are no widely available treatments to prevent or correct the brain injury to improve neurological outcomes. 

In this initial study, we will recruit two infants who are at high-risk of cerebral palsy due to preterm birth from the Early Neurodevelopment Clinic at Monash Children’s Hospital, led by Associate Professor Atul Malhotra. With ethics approval and parental consent, blood will be collected from each of the two infants who have been identified as having early signs of cerebral palsy due to being born preterm to generate two separate sets of stem cells i.e., cells with the special ability to develop into any type of cell in the body. We will then generate brain organoids using these stem cells from the two high-risk preterm infants and using commercially available stem cells derived from individuals with no known brain disorder for comparison. Brain organoids will be grown, and we will study their structure and function to identify the mechanisms that may contribute to the development of cerebral palsy, with the intention of establishing a personalised medicine tool for future therapeutic testing. 

Brain FoundationThe Brain Foundation is the largest, independent funder of brain and spinal injury research in Australia. We believe research is the pathway to recovery.