Better ways to treat our brain a “no brainer” for Dr Dino Premilovac

Tuesday, 6 October 2020 - 1:52pm

Relevance to Tasmanians

While stroke is the third leading cause of death and a major cause of disability in Australia, this is worse in Tasmania where stroke has a higher mortality rate than the national average. For those that survive a stroke, they are often left with life-long disability and depend on their family for support in many aspects of their lives. Although the statistics for stroke are grim, unfortunately, they are worse when it comes to brain cancer. Brain cancer has one of the lowest survival rates out of any cancer and only 22% of people survive more than five years after their diagnosis.

Tragically, brain cancer kills more children than any other disease in Australia. Continued brain research will ensure there is progress now and into the future when it comes to unlocking potential life-saving ways to treat devastating brain disorders that effect many Tasmanians young and old.

The science

With ongoing support from the RHHRF since 2017, and in particular through generous support from partners like Blundstone Australia, Dr Dino Premilovac and his research team have been developing ultrasound technology to assess blood vessels in both the healthy and diseased brain. A major component of this work involves the use of microbubbles – a contrast agent that is injected into the blood stream to allow the researchers to visualise and measure changes in blood flow and vessel function. These microbubbles are very safe and stable in the blood stream and have already been used to measure changes in blood flow in the muscles and tissue of healthy and type 2 diabetic Tasmanians.

What’s next?

In 2020 Dino and his team was thrilled to obtain a further funding grant from the RHHRF (enabled by a private donor) to develop a way of trapping and packaging drugs within these microbubbles – the title of this project is “Toward targeted drug delivery in the brain using ultrasound”.

In work undertaken so far, the team optimised the conditions needed to trap different kinds of drugs in microbubbles. In work to come over the next few months, they will use this cutting-edge technology to measure the quantity of drugs that can be delivered into the brain using this microbubble-based approach.

Why we need your help?

Dino hopes that his team’s research will further develop this new ultrasound-based technology to pave the way for a new targeted delivery of drugs to the brain. Ultimately, this new approach can then be employed to treat any number of brain disorders including stroke and brain cancer, amongst children and adults alike, into the future.

Please consider providing a gift this Spring that will support local researchers on their quest for better community health outcomes now and into the future – it means so much to so many Tasmanians.