IMG_08~2_Ed Worldwide, newborn infants suffer death or permanent brain damage caused by diseases arising before or around the time of birth. Our research groups (in Oslo, Norway and Bristol, UK) conduct translational research aimed at developing effective treatments against hypoxic-ischaemic injury in the newborn, including the prediction of severity and long term outcomes.

The neuroprotective effect of cooling (therapeutic hypothermia) was first verified in experimental models and led to clinical trials where we and others documented the same neuroprotective effect in humans. We are currently undertaking a randomised clinical trial to test whether breathing the inert gas xenon during cooling improves outcomes in newborn asphyxiated infants. In experimental models explored prior to this clinical trial, xenon combined with hypothermia doubled neuroprotection in comparison with hypothermia alone. Clinically, we follow up cooled infants long term up to ages 6-8 years. In the laboratory, we undertake further work on xenon neuroprotection, other cooling protocols and the interaction of cooling with other parameters such as infection and hyperoxia, the EEG, cerebral blood flow and the cardiovascular system.

By integrating studies of normal physiological changes in organ systems with pathological changes seen after hypoxic-ischaemic injury, we have developed experimental models that mimic either global injury or brain haemorrhage leading to permanent disability in children.