Hope to develop non-surgical methods of treating acquired hydrocephalus
Hydrocephalus Association-funded researchers were awarded funding through the Department of Defense (DoD) Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP) to study acquired hydrocephalus, with a particular focus on hydrocephalus that develops after a brain injury.
Researchers Dr. Shenandoah Robinson, professor of neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and Dr. Lauren Jantzie, associate professor (PAR) of pediatrics and neurology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, received a FY17 Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program, Investigator-Initiated Research Award. Through their work, the scientists hope to develop non-surgical interventions to treat, and even prevent, injury-related hydrocephalus across all ages from infancy to young adulthood, the time when active military service members are most prone to develop hydrocephalus as a result of a traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Through their collaborative research program, Dr. Robinson and Dr. Jantzie examine how injury to the developing brain leads to deficits, such as cerebral palsy and epilepsy, and what can be done to repair the damage. They began focusing more of their research efforts on hydrocephalus in 2016 after receiving an Innovator Award from the Hydrocephalus Association (HA).
“This is exciting for several reasons. Without the initial grant funding they received from the Hydrocephalus Association, these scientists would not have set their focus on hydrocephalus nor competed for the DoD grant,” explained Jenna Koschnitzky, PhD, HA’s National Director of Research Programs. “It’s gratifying to see Drs. Robinson and Jantzie be recognized and awarded DoD funding to expand their work, which could be a game changer for the treatment of acquired hydrocephalus.”
Through this research award, Drs. Robinson and Jantzie will each receive $750,000 in direct costs, totaling $2.3 million in direct plus indirect costs over three years.
This is the third grant awarded for hydrocephalus research through the DoD CDMRP since HA successfully advocated for inclusion of hydrocephalus on the list of eligible conditions in the Omnibus and Continuing Resolution Appropriations Act of 2015 signed by President Obama. HA provided initial funding for all three projects, with a total return of over $5.6 million on initial HA investments totaling $210 thousand.
In the United States, one in every 770 babies develops hydrocephalus, a complex, life-threatening condition marked by excess accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid on the brain. However, anyone at any time can develop hydrocephalus from a brain injury, tumor, or infection, and some people over 60 develop Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus, which is often, misdiagnosed as Alzheimer’s, dementia or Parkinson’s. The primary treatment for hydrocephalus is the insertion of a device called a shunt – a small tube and a connected valve –into the brain to drain the excess cerebrospinal fluid to another part of the body. Shunts save lives but frequently malfunction and become infected. It is not uncommon for a person with hydrocephalus to have ten or more shunt-related brain surgeries throughout their lifetime.
The U.S. Army Medical Research Acquisition Activity, 820 Chandler Street, Fort Detrick MD 21702-5014 is the awarding and administering acquisition office. This work was supported by the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs through the Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program under Awards No. W81XWH-18-1-0166 and W81XWH-18-1-0167. Opinions, interpretations, conclusions and recommendations are those of the authors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Department of Defense. In conducting research using animals, the investigator(s) adheres to the laws of the United States and regulations of the Department of Agriculture.
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