The researcher at the Center for Biomedical Image and Translational Research (CIBIT) of the Institute of Nuclear Sciences Applied to Health (ICNAS) at the University of Coimbra (UC), Vanessa Coelho-Santos, won a Junior Leader scholarship, awarded by the La Caixa Foundation.
This funding of 300,000 euros (more precisely 305,100 euros) allowed the researcher to return to Portugal to study the cerebrovascular development of newborns.
Through the use of state-of-the-art functional brain imaging techniques, as well as high-resolution microscopy, the research aims to deepen knowledge about the development of the neurovascular unit during the neonatal period, which can contribute to improving the diagnosis and treatment of brain pathologies in newborns.
Specifically, the research project “Unraveling the neonatal change in neurovascular coupling: a multimodal approach ”focuses on studying the development of communication between blood vessels and neurons, necessary for obtaining energy and oxygen, crucial for good health. brain functioning. This pre-clinical investigation will be carried out in newborn mice, through the «analysis of the cerebrovascular response after neuronal stimulation, using various neuroimaging methodologies that will be complemented with molecular analysis”, contextualizes Vanessa Coelho-Santos.
Functional brain imaging is “a valuable non-invasive tool widely used in healthcare brain studies, which relies on blood flow and oxygenation status to provide information about brain function, and plays an important role in detecting problems and lesions in the newborn’s brain and the prediction of long-term neurodevelopmental changes associated with these lesions”, explains the UC researcher.
“Interestingly, in newborns, there is a discrepancy in the cerebrovascular response when compared to adults, which often makes the diagnosis and characterization of pathologies difficult“, explains Vanessa Coelho-Santos. So far, “there is a gap in knowledge to explain this discrepancy that needs to be addressed for a better understanding of functional brain imaging data”, contextualizes the researcher. when this neurovascular coupling is compromised not only during development but in other pathologies such as Alzheimer’s disease or a stroke”, he adds.
With this investigation, which will be ongoing until the end of 2025, the team coordinated by Vanessa Coelho-Santos intends to “advance with the knowledge that can pave the way for studies of biomarkers for the effective identification of lesions or other adverse processes that may derail the normal brain development, which may have an impact on an early diagnosis and treatment of neonatal brain pathologies, such as cerebral palsy or neurodevelopmental diseases, such as autism”, highlights the researcher.
Using cutting-edge brain imaging methodologies, complemented by a molecular approach, this laboratory study will involve a multidisciplinary team. The competitive funding won by Vanessa Coelho-Santos will also allow the integration of new elements into the research team.
Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, and TikTok and see the exclusive content for social networks.