Latest research results


Neurocognitive predictors of risky driving in young people
Driving is one of the most risky activities for young people between the ages of 17-25 years. Despite making up only a small proportion of Australian drivers, young drivers account for over 25% of driver deaths. This increased risk is thought to reflect several factors including lack of skills, knowledge and experience, and immature nervous systems that lead to risky decision making. Professors Julie Stout, Mark Stevenson and Lynn Meuleners have investigated how risky decision making, impulsivity, and emotional dysregulation, relate to driving behaviour in young people. Their results suggest that online screening can predict individuals who are more at risk, and individualised online education programs or driving workshops may enhance road safety training. The results also suggest that advertising campaigns targeting negative consequences of driving dangerously may not be the most effective strategy.

A pilot study of combined intravenous minocycline and tPA for ischaemic stroke; a strategy to reduce haemorrhagic transformation
The majority of strokes are ischaemic strokes, where a blood vessel to the brain becomes obstructed. The use of tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) in recent years has led to a large improvement in outcome following stroke, with up to 50% of patients receiving tPA having little or no disability 3 months after their stroke. Unfortunately, there is a 6% risk of developing intracerebral haemorrhage (bleeding into the brain) with tPA treatment, with a consequent high rate of morbidity and mortality. A/Prof David Blacker, Dr David Prentice and Dr Anthony Alvaro have investigated using the antibiotic minocycline in conjunction with tPA, as a possible treatment to reduce the incidence of haemorrhagic transformation. Their results and other recent developments in stroke treatment are discussed by A/Prof Blacker in a recent presentation click here.

Neuroprotective efficacy of poly-arginine peptides in cerebral ischaemia models and mechanism of action
Excitotoxicity is the pathological process which causes damage to neurons by the over activation of neurotransmitter receptors, and is one of the most important brain damaging processes following traumatic brain injury. Adjunct Associate Professor Meloni, Professor Neville Knuckey and Associate Professor Melinda Fitzgerald have been investigating how poly-arginine and arginine-rich peptides can protect nerve cells from damage in stroke models. They have recently been successful in obtaining additional funding from NRP to look at the efficacy of poly-arginine peptides in neuroprotection following traumatic brain injury.
The latest results from these studies have been published in the Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism (2015), 35, 993-1004

Improving quality of life following stroke
NRP funded research by Adjunct Associate Professor Bruno Meloni and Clinical Professor Neville Knuckey has resulted in a series of discoveries which may help to minimise the extent of damage that a stroke can cause. Some of the brain injury following stroke occurs within minutes, but ongoing damaging processes persist several hours and even days after a stroke. The research group has discovered that certain peptides can limit brain damage up to one hour after a stroke, and future trials will look to extend this time even further. These results are particularly exciting as the prevalence of stroke is rising in Australia, and there are currently no neuroprotective treatments available for patients following stroke. The National Stroke Foundation estimates that the number of people having a stroke in Australia will rise from 50,000 a year to more than 130,000 by 2050.
The latest results from these studies have been published in the Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism (2015), 35, 993-1004.

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