Focusing on stroke and infectious/inflammatory aggressions occurring in the developing brain and responsible for severe handicaps such as cerebral palsy, learning disabilities and autism spectrum disorder.
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Perinatal brain damage is responsible for severe and long-lasting handicaps, including cerebral palsy, learning disabilities and behavioural disorders such as certain forms of autism. In spite of the best care, 40 % of preterm newborns (under 33 weeks of gestation) sustain neurological disabilities at age 5. For a long time, such handicaps were considered the consequence of circulatory or cerebral oxygenation defects. Paradoxically, their prevalence has yet to decline despite great progress in perinatal care. This fact raises new and fascinating hypotheses.
Perinatal infections and associated inflammatory responses are risk factors for cerebral damages. Through a combination of clinical and experimental approaches, Dr. Sebire’s team has shown that:
- Prenatal exposure to bacterial components induces cerebral lesions in newborns and thus predisposes the developing brain to circulatory defects which occur immediately after birth.
- The expression of placental and cerebral inflammatory proteins (cytokines) is linked to the above mentioned cerebral lesions.
Dr. Sebire’s expertise on the inflammatory process and the evaluation of neurodevelopmental handicaps enables a series of collaborative research projects, including the role of genetic and epigenetic factors on the central nervous system (CNS) development and health. His ultimate research aim is to develop new neuroprotective anti-inflammatory treatments to prevent neurological handicaps in children.
Photographer: Pierre Choiniere