Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) recently highlighted a major research study in the treatment of newborn babies with hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy in its first Therapeutic Hypothermia and Mag Cool Study Training Workshop, which was aimed at training medical staff from recruitment centers in ten countries involved in the study.
Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) is a condition where newborn babies are deprived of blood and oxygen supply to the brain. This results from birth asphyxia, where the baby’s body is deprived of adequate blood and oxygen supply before or during birth.
In Qatar, about 15 babies per year are diagnosed with the condition. Worldwide, it is the second most common cause of death in newborn babies, with approximately 0.9 million babies dying of this condition.
Therapeutic hypothermia, a treatment which has recently become available in developed countries, involves providing a low body temperature to the baby for 72 hours, followed by an eight-hour period of slow rewarming to the normal body temperature.
HMC in Qatar is one of the first few centers in the Gulf region that has started the use of therapeutic hypothermia for the treatment of HIE, employing the latest technology. Therapeutic hypothermia has helped to reduce death and disability in babies by about 30 percent according to the most recent research publications.
“There is extensive research going on worldwide about additional therapies, and we at HMC’s Neonatal Unit have started the Mag Cool Study, which will pursue research into a unique combination of hypothermia and magnesium sulfate to protect the brain of newborn babies suffering from HIE,” said Dr Sajjad Rahman, Senior Consultant of Perinatal Medicine at Women’s Hospital (HMC) and Lead Principal Investigator of the Mag Cool Study.
“Therapeutic hypothermia and magnesium sulfate both protect the brain separately. By combining the two, we are hoping to be able to increase the neuroprotective benefit to the babies.”
The Mag Cool Study project is funded by the Internal Research Grants Program of HMC and will have its recruitment centers in all GCC countries, Egypt, Turkey, Malaysia, India and Pakistan. “The study will be coordinated by a Research Associate at HMC, Dr Sarrah El Tinay. The workshop had been organized for the purpose of training the delegates from all of the centers. The results of the study will be available early next year, and we hope that this will improve the outcome in babies in terms of reducing both death and disability,” Dr Rahman added.
“This is the first major multinational, multicenter research project in which Qatar is a lead research centre. This is a source of pride for HMC and for Qatar, as the country is now in a position of leadership in producing new research among the regional countries, and in changing the outcomes for patients,” said Dr Rahman. “It is also in line withQatar’s National Vision 2030, which aims to make Qatar a knowledge-based society.”
The research study, which will use a modern, internet-based randomization system, is being conducted in collaboration with Imperial College in London, UK, and Ghazi University in Ankara, Turkey. The two institutions were represented at the workshop by Professor Denis Azzopardi, Professor of Neonatal Medicine at Imperial College, who gave the delegates an update on hypothermic therapy, and Professor Kivilcim Gucuyener, Professor of Neonatal and Pediatric Neurology at Ghazi University, who gave a presentation on the use of brain monitoring machines during hypothermia treatment.
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