Brain Injury

Transient Ischemic Attack

Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) is a mini stroke that lasts a few minutes. TIA symptoms are similar to those seen in a stroke and include a numbness of the arms, face and legs (usually on one side of the body), visual disturbances and a loss of balance. These symptoms generally persist for approximately one hour.

The TIA study is based within Stroke Medicine, Clinical Sciences Building, Hope Hospital and the genetics work is performed within Centre for Integrated Genomic Medical Research (CIGMR). DNA from 760 TIA patients has been collected and over 90 genetic variants from 17 genes thought to be involved in the TIA inflammatory response have been investigated.

Cases and controls for this study are defined as patients who have (cases) and patients who haven’t (controls) had another TIA event within 30 days of their initial diagnosis. Genotyping for this study is complete and analysis is currently being performed.

Cortical plasticity

Central nervous system plasticity can be defined as the ability of neuronal systems to shape/reshape function in response to changes in physiological and pathophysiological input. Studies have demonstrated that neuroplasticity may be beneficial in recovery of function after cerebral injury but also maladaptive, for instance in the development of neuropathic pain. Despite increasing evidence that neuroplasticity plays a substantial role in influencing human function after brain injury, the aetiological factors that predispose individuals to the development of functionally relevant cortical plasticity and thus potential for recovery following disease remain uncertain.

The aims of this project are to understand better the genetic and neurochemical basis for the induction and modulation of human cortical plasticity in health and brain injury, as prelude to developing more targeted pharmacological and neurorehabilitative therapies for brain-injured patients. Approximately 200 volunteers from the Dyne-Steele cohort will undergo a transcranial magnetic stimulation technique in order to measure synaptic function. Genome Wide Association data will then be used to identify those genes that influence cortical plasticity.