Novel diagnostic and therapeutic targets in ischaemic brain injury
Ischaemic stroke is a leading cause of death and major disability resulting from death of brain tissue and focal neurological deficits; however, despite decades of research, treatment options remain limited. To develop more effective treatment and achieve better functional recovery, there is a need for a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying disease pathology and progression. The broad focus of Dr. Pfeiffer’s research is to identify biomarkers, as diagnostic and prognostic indicators for outcome in patients aimed at improving functional recovery, and neuroprotective agents aimed at rescuing ischaemic neurons from irreversible injury, improving neurological outcome and facilitating brain recovery.
Areas of interest:
Activation of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), a key protein kinase activated in response to various physiological or pathological stimuli such as ischemia, hypoxia and glucose deprivation, is a critical regulator in cellular energy function in response to stress. The pro-survival or pro-apoptotic effect of AMPK activation is determined by the duration and level of the AMPK activity following energetic stress and the extent of recovery of ATP depletion and cellular bioenergetics, determining whether a cell can tolerate a stimulus or initiates cell death. To this end, Dr. Pfeiffer’s research focuses on the elucidation of the molecular signatures mediating the effects of AMPK activation to provide insight into the functional relevance and identification of individual regulatory targets, including microRNA.
Endogenous microRNA (miRNA) are potent regulators of gene function elevated in a wide range of diseases, with crucial roles as regulators of signalling pathways involved in ischaemia-reperfusion injury. Identification of elevated microRNA in response to progressive neuronal injury may identify ischaemia-associated miRNAs as important targets for development as biomarkers and therapeutics in the clinical management of ischaemic brain injury. The aim of this research is to characterise and validate such microRNA in both pre-clinical and clinical settings.