Posted on November 23, 2016

Sidra Medical and Research Center (Sidra) is positioned to improve the lives of children with brain disorders following its participation in a joint research project that earned an international accolade.

Sidra’s Research Branch collaborated with the Department of Radiology at the Fortis Memorial Research Institute in Delhi, India, and the Department of Neurology and Microbiology at the King George Medical University in Lucknow, India, to study neurocognitive impairment (the reduction or impairment of cognitive functions in the brain) in pediatric patients born with immuno-deficiencies. Sidra’s ultimate goal in undertaking the study was to contribute to better understanding of the abnormalities in brain development in children, which could then be applied to research programs relevant to the pediatric population in Qatar.

Using neurocognitive assessment and brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, the Sidra team measured structural brain changes associated with neurocognitive functions among perinatally1 infected children with immune-deficiencies. The team was able to locate altered cortical2 thickness, subcortical3 volumes and structural connectivity anomalies in the children. The findings will facilitate the early detection of structural and functional brain changes, allowing appropriate treatment and therapies to improve functional activities in children with immunity disorders.

The study advances current knowledge of neurodevelopmental issues in children, giving Sidra the opportunity to develop the methodology of neurocognitive and neurodegenerative research in Qatar. Sidra embraces a model of evidence and best practice-based health care. This involves integrating the best available research evidence worldwide into clinical expertise. The methodology will be used to evaluate the effects of different pathologies on normal brain development in children, as well as to monitor therapeutic effects.

According to Sidra’s Chief Research Officer Dr. Francesco Marincola, such outcomes are possible because of Sidra’s collaborative research agenda. “Conducting targeted research that will lead to improvements in patient clinical outcomes is at the core of Sidra’s research activity. That goal is facilitated when we collaborate with others. In generating valuable knowledge from this study, we have validated that approach. However, it is thanks to the caliber of our researchers that we have been called upon to offer our expertise in the first place. We are globally relevant, and the people of Qatar can be proud of that,” Dr. Marincola said.

Sidra’s division of neurology within Pediatric Medicine will be able to harness the research findings to provide complete diagnostic and therapeutic services for children with neurological disorders, such as simple and complex epilepsy. The research can also promote the understanding of neurodevelopmental disorders, such as learning difficulties, autism and emotional-behavioral problems. The importance of the original research study was recognized earlier this year by the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine (ISMRM) in Singapore, which gave a joint award to the researchers.

ISMRM is a nonprofit professional association devoted to furthering the development and application of magnetic resonance techniques in medicine and biology. The Sidra team comprised of Dr. Santosh K. Yadav, Dr. Mohammad Haris, Dr. Ena Wang and Dr. Francesco Marincola. Sidra’s researchers said, “This is exactly the kind of results-based research we are proud to undertake in collaboration with our peers globally. We are looking forward to applying the methodologies into our own local research programs”.