Three members from the Department of Neurosurgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital were among the featured presenters at the 2021 World Medical Innovation Forum. Their “First Look” talks showcased promising new gene and cell therapies targeting glioblastoma and other tumors with unmet need.
For over three decades, Dennis Selkoe, MD, co-director of the Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, has studied protein abnormalities that occur in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). In the mid-1980s, he and his colleagues at the Brigham were among the first scientists to discover that neurofibrillary tangles associated with AD were made of the tau protein. In the early 1990s, he was instrumental in developing the amyloid hypothesis, which links excess amyloid β (Aβ) in the brain to the initiation of AD, and his lab made several discoveries supporting the concept.
Treating patients with traumatic spinal cord injuries has significant challenges, in large part because of the potentially severe and life-altering effects these injuries can have. Despite recent progress in finding the best way to treat spinal cord damage, many patients are left with profound disabilities. Additional research, both in the lab and the clinic, is vital.
A team that includes investigators from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital and Boston University School of Medicine is one of three multidisciplinary groups that recently received funding from the Henrietta B. and Frederick H. Bugher Foundation to develop breakthroughs related to hemorrhagic stroke. The over $11 million gift, which the American Heart Association is overseeing, aims to improve prevention, treatment and health outcomes for patients with intracerebral hemorrhage.
Many countries in Africa are facing a severe shortage of clinicians in many specialties, including neurosurgery. Although efforts are underway to train more young clinicians and expand access to neurosurgical care across the continent, another gap must also be addressed: the lack of collaboration between neurosurgeons and technical experts.
For most chronic diseases, improvements in care over the past few decades have resulted from early interventions that prevent disease progression. Brigham and Women’s Hospital investigators, along with collaborators at other institutions around the world, are applying a similar approach to the early detection and prevention of Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
Cushing’s disease, caused by a pituitary adenoma, is the most common type of endogenous excessive cortisol production and results in Cushing’s syndrome. This is a particularly challenging disease to diagnose and treat. Surgery to remove the pituitary tumors that drive the disease can bring it under control, but these tumors can’t always be completely removed. In addition, they frequently recur, even a decade or more after surgery.
E. Antonio Chiocca, MD, PhD, chair of the Department of Neurosurgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and David Reardon, MD, of Brigham and Women’s and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, have received a $14.5M Program Project grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) for his research on glioblastoma. These NCI grants support multidisciplinary research that addresses a major scientific objective. The highly competitive grants are only awarded to a few research programs every five years.
A unique collaboration at Brigham and Women’s Hospital is helping patients with scoliosis and other complex spinal problems reclaim their quality of life. The Adult Spinal Deformity and Scoliosis Program, led by co-directors Hasan A. Zaidi, MD, Melvin C. Makhni, MD, MBA, and Yi Lu, MD, PhD, is one of the very few in the country to bring together specialists in neurosurgery and orthopaedic surgery to treat patients through the entire continuum of care.