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Professor and Grad Student Work on
"Potentially Effective Treatment for Traumatic Brain Injury"

RADFORD – Radford University psychology professor Mark Whiting and graduate student Jason Ross are presenting their research into the neuroprotective properties of cerium oxide nanoparticles this week at the National Neurotrauma Society meeting in Santa Barbara, Calif.

The presentation is called "Cerium Oxide Nanoparticles Improve Neuropathological and Functional Outcome Following Experimental Traumatic Brain Injury."

“We are demonstrating that these nanoparticles are a potentially effective treatment for traumatic brain injury,” Whiting said.

Whiting and RossWhiting is collaborating in the study with Bev Rzigalinski of the Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine in Blacksburg. Rzigalinski has been working with the cerium oxide nanoparticles for several years, but “what was missing was an animal model,” Whiting said. When Whiting joined the RU faculty a year ago, he and Rzigalinski began their collaboration.

(IN THE PHOTO: Professor Mark Whiting, left, and Jason Ross.)

“It is moving pretty quickly,” Whiting said. “Using an animal model, we have demonstrated that cerium oxide nanoparticles reduce both the amount of brain damage and the amount of behavioral impairment following traumatic brain injury.”

Whiting and Rzigalinski have submitted a grant proposal to National Institutes of Health to seek further funding for the research.

“The data we are presenting is fairly preliminary, but it is strong,” Whiting said. “We think that cerium works so well because of its free radical-scavenging properties.”

Traumatic brain injury induces the production of large amounts of free radicals, resulting in a state of oxidative stress which kills brain cells and ultimately impairs outcome, Whiting said.

“One of the most exciting, and novel, things about our research is that cerium has the potential to be a self-regenerating treatment for TBI,” Whiting explained. “That is, unlike traditional antioxidants, cerium may be able to regenerate its free radical scavenging sites. Also, because of its very small size – 10 nanometers – it can get into areas of the brain that larger antioxidants cannot.”

Sept. 10, 2009
Contact: Chad Osborne (caosborne@radford.edu; 540-831-7761)

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