Research UPDATE: Investigating Alternative Treatment Options for Hydrocephalus

Dr. Sonia Podvin

Dr. Sonia Podvin

The Hydrocephalus Association strives to support research which will help advance diagnosis, treatment and outcomes of patients with hydrocephalus. As of 2011, we have raised 2 million dollars for research. But where does that money go? One place is our Mentored Young Investigator (MYI) grant program, through which we aim to fund and encourage young researchers in the field of hydrocephalus. Since 2009, we have funded seven MYI’s. The work our MYI’s have conducted is both substantive and insightful, and HA wants to take the opportunity to showcase their fantastic contributions to hydrocephalus research. We begin with Sonia Podvin, Ph.D, a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California San Diego, who was one of two recipients of the Hydrocephalus Association 2011 Mentored Young Investigator Award.

Dr. Podvin’s research as a molecular pharmacologist aims to develop safe, specific drugs to treat hydrocephalus. Her study, Augurin is a novel choroid plexus-derived peptide hormone that regulates CSF, investigates the function of the peptide hormone augurin. Augurin is an anti-inflammatory hormone that circulates in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and may be able to control brain hydrodynamics. There are initial findings that suggest the loss of augurin contributes to CSF fluid dysfunction. Her research has two specific aims (1) to develop an augurin animal genetic model in mice and (2) to identify the unknown cell surface receptor of augurin. The ultimate aim, if the hypothesis is correct, is to pharmacologically manipulate augurin to treat hydrocephalus. A challenge in Dr. Podvin’s specific research area is drug delivery to the brain. The blood-brain barrier (BBB) can prevent drugs from reaching the target cells. Developing a drug which can cross the BBB and not have undesirable side effects is important.

Dr. Podvin was very excited to receive the MYI award in 2011. Her career goal is to become a hydrocephalus researcher. The hydrocephalus research world is one of collaboration, and the MYI grant has allowed her to connect with other hydro researchers. She says, “One of the most wonderful things about working in the hydro field is the drive to stick together and to share stories and ideas so that we can find the most effective research avenues to improve patients’ lives.” Dr. Podvin believes that facilitating the open lines of communication between patients, families, clinicians and basic science researchers is key to advancing hydrocephalus research efforts.,

Since receiving the MYI award, Dr. Podvin has been published twice: “Epidermal Growth Factor Targeting of Bacteriophage to the Choroid Plexus for Gene Delivery to the Central Nervous System via Cerebrospinal Fluid” in Brain Research and “Ecrg4 expression and its product Augurin in the Choroid Plexus: Impact on Fetal Brain Development, Cerebrospinal Fluid Homeostasis and Neuroprogenitor Cell Response to CNS Injury” in Fluids and Barriers of the CNS.

Mentored Young Investigator Award (MYI) program

The MYI Award program began in 2009 with the dual purpose of funding promising research relevant to hydrocephalus while fostering the development of young researchers. The award helps insure that qualified young scientists enter the field of hydrocephalus research and receive research training and experience under the guidance of highly trained, well-respected researchers who have demonstrated success in their field of research. At the completion of the grant period, our goal is that these young scientists become high-caliber, productive, independent researchers with an enduring focus on research relevant to hydrocephalus. Ultimately, it is hoped that this support will help these young scientists to make successful applications for an NIH K or R award to continue their research in hydrocephalus, thereby enriching the hydrocephalus research landscape.




8 Responses to “Research UPDATE: Investigating Alternative Treatment Options for Hydrocephalus”
  1. Angela says:

    My son has had hydrocephalus at birth due to aqueductal stenosis. Would patients like this be a candidate?

  2. Nancy Marie Ricketts says:

    I am a 63 year old woman, recently diagnosed with this disease. My surgeon talked briefly with me of an alternative operation to the shunt, that is more successful. Will my symptoms lessen and eventually go away after an operation to increase the flow of CSF drainage?

  3. amandagarzon says:

    Nancy, every patient is different, and responds to their treatment differently as well. Some individuals see a reduction in their symptoms. Some individuals state that they feel better than before the initial onset of symptoms. Others continue to struggle with symptoms, despite treatment. We wish we could give a definitive answer to your question but it is really impossible to do so. However, there are incredibly honest stories posted on our website about individuals with NPH and how they have fared after their treatment. We hope they provide you with some further insight. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if we can help you in any way as you move through your journey.

  4. Judy Feeley says:

    I was born with aqueductal stenosis and hydrocephalus, but not diagnosed until age 42. My neurosurgeon drilled to attempt an ETV but aborted the procedure because I have small veins (runs on my paternal side). However, just the drilling has released the built up pressure and I can do many things I couldn’t before: walk w a normal gait, put my socks and shoes on without a sock aid. I slept through the night, even my far-sighted ness is gone. I know this may be temporary but I an very happy.

  5. Rebecca says:

    Recently saw a neurosurgeon for new dx of severe to moderate hydrocephalus. I’ve had headaches and dizziness since April. My headache felt worse last eve with a fullness sensation when I lied down. This continued for sev hrs. Note I have an arachnoid cyst and severe asthma. If surgery isn’t done should I seek another opinion? Thanks for your time.

  6. Bob says:

    I know of a person with hydrocephalus. how cam this condition be managed W/out gouing under the knife? Natural Foods, supliments, Weight control, we want to know every way to prevent it becomeing debilitating.

  7. Kidist Adugna says:

    Dear Sir/Madam my name is kidist Adugna am from Ethiopia and here is the thing my son was 33 days of age and he is a victum of Hydrocephalus and also his spain was open as the doctor told me it is the result of this Hydrocephalus. Here in Ethiopia I can’t able to find the proper medication for him and also if there I can’t affored the medication process cost, right now my son is in the big pain and it makes me badlly restless so will you please please recomand me some organizations who can help me for the process of all medication also will you tell me what I have to do for his basical treatment for now?

    Thank You
    I will wait for Your help

  8. Lucy says:

    Daughter placed with a sigma orbis shunt in 1995, no revisions. She has been complaining of afternoon evening headaches, shunt valve pain – sharp- sleep disturbance, memory and attention issues. CT and shunt line x-ray evaluation was normal. Not sure what to do at this time.
    Any suggestions?

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