Translating Research
from Bench to Bedside

“ WITH OVER 100 BILLION NEURONS MAKING CONTACT VIA TINY STRUCTURES CALLED SYNAPSES, THE HUMAN BRAIN IS LITERALLY MAKING TRILLIONS OF CONNECTIONS EVERY SECOND...”


Any approach to understanding diseases of the brain, including its therapy, needs to take the brain’s dynamic state into consideration. Dr. Mandar Jog, scientist at Lawson Health Research Institute (Lawson) and Director of the Movement Disorder Clinic at LHSC, is doing research unique in Canada that honours the notion that the human brain is an adaptive system.

“With over 100 billion neurons making contact via tiny structures called synapses, the human brain is literally making trillions of connections every second. The pattern and strength of the connections is constantly changing and no two brains are alike. The complexity of the connectivity between brain cells is mind-boggling,” says Dr. Jog.

Trained as a neurologist with a background in physics and mathematics, Dr. Jog’s work is based on four pillars of research, which together build the foundation to move Lawson closer to easing the burden for patients suffering from movement disorders.

The first pillar is the need to understand how the brain works, along with the fundamental laws that govern the system. Dr. Jog’s laboratory is one of the only labs in Canada that uses mathematical equations to help explain what happens in the brain.

The second pillar of research is to understand the effects of the disease state on the brain. By researching how movement disorders impact the functioning of the brain, Dr. Jog is able to help patients affected by Parkinson’s disease.

Several years ago, Dr. Jog assisted in the development of a procedure called Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS). In Parkinson’s, DBS has proven to be effective in treating the debilitating symptoms of tremors, slowness of movement and rigidity.

Dr. Jog’s third pillar of research is to investigate neuromodulation technologies such as DBS for treatment of other neurological disorders including Tourette’s syndrome, depression, eating disorders and epilepsy.

The fourth pillar according to Dr. Jog is the development of a theory based on the compilation of his work and ideas. Developing a theory will allow him to predict how and why the brain functions as it does, and how therapies and intervention will work. Once proven, this theory will allow patient diagnosis and treatment to be more efficient and effective.

Being both a clinician and researcher gives Dr. Jog the ability to translate his work from the bench to the bedside–to the community and back again–a true example of translational research. Whether it is figuring out a mathematical equation to understand the complexities of the brain or developing a procedure to help patients who are suffering from Parkinson’s disease, Dr. Jog is truly committed to making a difference in the lives of patients who are suffering from movement disorders.

Leading the way in innovation – Dr. Mandar Jog with research on the human brain.

lawson

As the research institute of London Health Sciences Centre and St. Joseph’s Health Care, London, and working in partnership with The University of Western Ontario, Lawson Health Research Institute is committed to furthering scientific knowledge to advance health care around the world.

RESEARCH ACTIVITIES 2008/2009
New Clinical Trials Started  456
Active Clinical Trials Underway  1,691
Total amount held in research accounts (LHSC portion)  $57.7 million

INNOVATION PRIZE FOR RESEARCH
Lawson Health Research Institute (Lawson) launched their Innovation Prize in response to the competitive landscape of funding opportunities, but more importantly to enable researchers to work on applicable day- to-day issues at the hospital. Winners received a prize of $150,000 to facilitate a seminal research project with the potential to improve our understanding of the origins, diagnosis, treatment or prevention of diseases.

Dr. Ian Cunningham and Dr. John Denstedt will work on understanding the composition of kidney stones and targeted patient strategies to treat the stones.

Dr. Richard Kim will work on understanding the right dose of chemotherapy for the right patient with colon cancer at the right time, commonly referred to as personalized medicine.


Magnifying Health

AS A HIGH-POWERED MICROSCOPE, OPS IMAGING WORKS BY CAPTURING REAL-TIME IMAGES OF THE PATIENT’S SMALL BLOOD VESSELS IN THE CIRCULATORY SYSTEM.


Imaging technology at Lawson Health Research Institute (Lawson) is helping doctors and clinicians make faster diagnosis for critically ill patients. As the first research institute in Canada to use Orthogonal Polarized Spectral (OPS) imaging in a clinical setting, researchers at Lawson have been exploring the benefits of this imaging technique since 2005.

Drs. Richard Potter and Amit Badhwar, scientists at Lawson in critical illness research, are key leaders in the study of this imaging technology. As a high-powered microscope, OPS imaging works by capturing real-time images of the patient’s small blood vessels in the circulatory system. “OPS imaging is the perfect research and diagnostic tool,” says Dr. Potter. “It is portable and allows us to acquire images from the liver, intestine and skeletal muscle during surgery right at the patient bedside. Everything we have done with a microscope in the lab we are able to do in a patient setting.”

One of the many areas this technique is being used is in the identification of the inflammatory condition known as sepsis for patients being cared for in the intensive care unit (ICU). “We hope that in the ICU this imaging technique will help us determine the state of sepsis and how effective certain treatments are in treating this illness,” says Dr. Potter.

OPS imaging has also helped to enhance the treatment provided to cancer patients who are suffering from the painful condition known as oral mucositis, a common side effect of radiation. As the first clinical study in the world using this technique for this purpose, the technology has the potential to significantly contribute to the effective treatment of mucositis.

“We hope to one day use the technique as a diagnostic tool to provide faster diagnosis for patients, right at the bedside,” says Dr. Badhwar. “Although the imaging technique is still being used as an experimental diagnostic tool, the future benefits are continuing to be discovered and are having a direct impact on the enhancement of patient care.”

Drs. Potter and Badhwar are helping patients with critical illnesses through advanced imaging capabilities.

Drs. Potter and Badhwar are helping patients with critical illnesses through advanced imaging capabilities.