Globally, 87 % of deaths in infants less than a month old (called neonates) are due to infection, pre-term births and birth asphyxia. The annual healthcare expenditure in Europe arising from neonatal medical conditions is currently billions of EUROs
There is a critical need for better neonatal brain monitoring techniques in the healthcare sector to improve patient outcomes and reduce associated healthcare costs. The aims of the three-year EU-funded 'Brain diagnostics and monitoring in early neonatal period (BraDiMo)' (BRADIMO) project were to improve neonatal research.
BRADIMO has funded training at the largest neonatal research centre in Australia called Perinatal Research Center (PRC) followed by a year at the host institute in Finland. The initiative incorporates invaluable skills in neonatal research methodology and research focusing on commercialisation. Part of the training has focused on communication skills such as teaching, presentation and media relations.
During the first two years, the scieists participated in large animal research on preterm and term piglet models. Data analysis of neurological and cardiac functions during hypoxic episodes (low oxygen levels in the body) is ongoing.
Electroencephalogram (EEG) monitored and characterised electrical activity of the human brain during pre-term and term births. Spatial frequencies and volume conduction effects of neonatal EEGs were also characterised to enable development of realistic head models. Studies combining EEG and functional magnetic resonance imaging on neonatal phantoms demonstrated the safety of this technique in neonates and babies for monitoring brain function. Novel markers were discovered to diagnose, monitor and treat neonates with birth asphyxia.
The project remit included invaluable skills in international research project management both as a team member as well as a principal investigator. Collaborations with academia and industry provided practical expertise in research commercialisation and intellectual property protection.Project activities have facilitated skills and knowledge development to promote international research on neonatal brain studies. Ongoing and future research endeavours will provide unparalleled insight into neonatal neurophysiology and benefit the European medical industry and citizens as a whole.
Provided by Cordis