Each tile includes a summary and discussion of the aims of current research projects at NeuRA.
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Sleep and circadian rhythm disruption represent a major risk factor for cancer progression and its associated side-effects such as mood disorders and cognitive impairment. Using mouse models of sleep and circadian rhythm disruption of shift workers, we are identifying the impact of poor sleep and dysregulated body clocks on cancer and cancer-associated side-effects to improve the lives of cancer patients.
The Laboratory of ImmunoPsychiatry collaborates closely with the Schizophrenia Research Laboratory at NeuRA. We are investigating the role of astrocytes in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia and the intersection of antipsychotic treatments with neuroinflammation to improve treatments for schizophrenia.
Cognitive impairment is extremely common among cancer patients and survivors. The Laboratory of ImmunoPsychiatry has determined that the cancer itself contributes to this using animal models of breast cancer, which may be prevented by the use of anti-inflammatory drugs. We are now trying to determine the precise biological changes that occur in the brains of cancer patients that lead to long-term cognitive impairment and identify novel treatment strategies that can be tested in clinical populations from diagnosis through to the end of treatment.
The Laboratory of ImmunoPsychiatry is determining the role of resident immune cells (microglia) in the pathophysiology of inflammation-induced depression. Using animal models they are determining whether suppressing activation of these cells can prevent or treat depression-like behaviour. They are also determining whether enhancing transport of excess glutamate produced by these cells from the brain and across the blood-brain-barrier for metabolism in the body is an effective treatment for inflammation-induced depression.
Head injuries are the leading cause of death and disability for children older than one year of age and one of the most common reasons for paediatric presentation to the emergency department. Pedal cyclist incidents alone are responsible for 10% of hospitalisations for head injuries among Australian children. Helmets have been proven to be effective at preventing and reducing the severity of head injuries, however head injury still occurs to approximately 20% of injured child bicyclists despite helmet wearing.
Poor helmet positioning (misuse) undermines the protective benefit and has been observed in up to 85% of child bicyclists. Misuse in children relates to poor helmet fit and comfort stemming from child helmets being designed as scaled down adult helmets and not accounting for variations in head and face shape throughout child development.
We aim to define the head, face and neck shapes of children needed for appropriate helmet shell and retention system design and define the factors for helmet misuse among child bicyclists.