RNA Research in Brain Injuries

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Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Barrow Neurological Institute and the Translational Genomics Research Institute are going to study the role of extracellular RNA, or RNA located outside our body’s cells, as biomarkers in brain injuries that include hemorrhaging in the brain. Researchers will be working to develop a prognostic tool that will lead them to more effective treatments for a form of bleeding in the brain that affects approximately 12,000 premature babies. They are also going to look into the role of extracellular RNA in the development of blood vessel spasms following a stroke caused by bleeding in the brain. Dr. Jorge Arango, a research scientist at the Neuroscience Research for Barrow Neurological Institute at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, will explain the research.

Ted Simons: Phoenix Children's Hospital, Barrow Neurological Institute and the Translational Genomics Research Institute are teaming up for a major study on the role of RNA in brain injuries that cause hemorrhaging in premature babies and adult stroke patients. Here to explain this is Dr. Jorge Arango, research and scientist with Barrow Neuorological Institute at Phoenix Children's Hopsital. Thanks for joining us. We appreciate it. This study now to look at brain injuries in babies, looking at extra cellular RNA. What is that?

Dr. Jorge Arango: That's correct. The basic molecular theory is that we have DNA and pretty much DNA determines who we are. Well, RNA is the entity or like the transport in charge of translating that information that DNA has. That's what we all believed for a very long time. Now during the last decade, there were RNA molecules found outside of the cell, which there's no real reason for these molecules to be outside because all the translation process of DNA occurs inside the cell. Well, with time we have been learning that these molecules have different action and act actually like sort of hormones just going to our cells and making replication dictated by the different cells, right, so pretty much telling information from you, some information from you, come to me and tell me to now change my hair to lighter.

Ted Simons: That's basically the extra cellular RNA doing that? Wandering out there action looking for something to get involved with?

Dr. Jorge Arango: Something like that. We're trying to find out what actually the mechanism is that produce RNA and which are translated and why.

Ted Simons: We move from that definition, which I think I tortured a little bit, to the idea of hemorrhagic brain injuries, bleeding on the brain of premature babies. How does that work?

Dr. Jorge Arango: This is premature babies are very sensitive because their lungs are not completely developed. Several components of their bodies are basically immature. There are very sensitive to hypoxia. That's lack of oxygen in tissues. Blood is in charge of the liver. Due to the lack of oxygen in the tissue in specific cells that are in the middle of your brain close to these areas that are the ventricles that hold cerebral spinal fluid, that's a completely different story, but around these areas these cells had extremely sensitive to the lack of oxygen. So when this lack of oxygen happens they bleed. They bleed inside the ventricles. When this bleed happens there are several outcomes that come and follow this insult. Some of the outcomes are the development of hydrocephalus. Hydrocephalus is accumulation of cerebral spinal fluid, so the babies have big heads. That is pretty much what ended up happening. Or there is actually these cells when they die they produce an insult to the cells next to them and so on, and these act like everything on our bodies as a chain reaction, so you produce a death around this area. Why is this area important, a lot of information from your brain pass through this area. So if these cells or areas are injured, then your body doesn't respond to what is happening in your head and you develop cerebral palsy.

Ted Simons: The study looks at the extra, the extra cellular RNA and how it applies in these situations and if you find out how it applies maybe you can find some treatment?

Dr. Jorge Arango: We're looking specifically into that. It was clear on the first question it was we don't know what is the role of it on this condition, however these hemorrhagic conditions in association with we're doing the part of -- these all are called intracranial bleeds, right?

Ted Simons: Right.

Dr. Jorge Arango: So we're working on hemorrhage that are common in children or counterpart in St. Joseph hospital are looking at what happens on this when an adult has an aneurysm that breaks and releases the same substances. So what we're trying to identify is what changes are particular in how they change over time on these extra cellular RNA molecules to understand somehow the events that happen during the hemorrhage and why these things happen later.

Ted Simons: Does this mean better treatment or does it mean a better way to identify the possibility of these activities happening?

Dr. Jorge Arango: Both. What we will try to identify first is what happened and with what happened that means better diagnosis so we can be able to tell what's going to happen with you from the basis of how much substance are you releasing or what type of substance are you releasing. In the future, what we want to learn is, okay, if this substance is causing this, how can we block or stimulate this to make you better?

Ted Simons: How far along is the study?

Dr. Jorge Arango: We started late last year, tise first year has been pretty much identifying the best mechanism to test for the substance?

Ted Simons: Promising?

Dr. Jorge Arango: I hope so.

Ted Simons: Congratulations on great work. Good to have you here. Thanks for joining us.

Dr. Jorge Arango: Thank you so much.

Dr. Jorge Arango:Research Scientist, Neuroscience Research for Barrow Neurological Institute at Phoenix Children's Hospital;

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