In this article, Dr Nicole Keong and Dr Sharon Low talks about hydrocephalus and brain tumours respectively.
Brain water and dementia
Dr Nicole Keong, Consultant
I am interested in hydrocephalus, which means ‘too much water on the brain’.
An interesting variant, normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH), exists in elderly patients. This causes problems with walking or repeated falls, memory decline and urinary incontinence. The condition is amenable to surgical intervention by the placement of a shunt device to divert fluid.
Whilst we know that there is something we can do surgically, we have some difficulty identifying patients who would be responsive to it. We also do not understand why this condition is reversible for only a short time. Can we predict this early and non-invasively?
I am trying to answer these questions by interrogating the effect of water on the wiring of the brain.
By studying the distortion and disruption of brain wiring using advanced imaging analysis, we aim to characterise the types of injury that can be reversed with surgery.
If we can understand this problem, it may have a meaningful impact on patients and families struggling with dementia.
Malignant and dangerous
Dr Sharon Low, Registrar
Brain tumours, in particular the highly malignant glioblastoma multiforme, fascinate me. The majority of patients diagnosed with glioblastomas eventually succumb to the effects of the tumour.
Several therapies that are successful in other cancers have failed to make a significant impact on glioblastomas because of its highly complex nature.
The limitation of current medicine, and the pain experience by our patients and their families, makes research in this area inevitably important.
We are now aware that such brain tumours have distinct molecular subtypes that may have impact on response to different treatments.
My time on the bench hopes to understand the different behavioural pathways this disease of interest at a deeper level, so as to find targeted therapy that will best fit each patient.
The work ahead is challenging, but nonetheless, every new insight will add another consequential element into the understanding of this enigmatic brain tumour.