The Annual Scientific Meeting of the Australasian Neuroscience Society
December 2–5, 2019

Lin Kooi Ong, PhD

Rebecca Hood, PhD*

The Annual Scientific Meeting of the Australasian Neuroscience Society was held December 2 to 5 in Adelaide. There were many high-quality and exciting sessions. We would like to highlight two key sessions that focused on stroke and brain injury.

The first session, “Injury to the Nervous System,” provided the audience a sample of the insights gleaned from various studies on injury to the nervous system. Dr. Shenpeng Zhang (La Trobe University) kicked off the session with a retrospective analysis of 5 years’ experimental stroke data from 716 mice to identify interrelationships between measures such as infarct volume, brain edema, functional outcomes and leukocytes.

Ms. Isabella Bilecki (University of Adelaide, @bella_bilecki) then presented interesting findings on the role of neuroinflammation and blood-brain barrier disruption in sites of secondary neurodegeneration after ischemic stroke using an ovine model. She showed a strong correlation between serum IL-1β and IL-6 levels in the thalamus, suggesting circulatory inflammatory markers as potential proxy for neuroinflammation. Dr. Lin Kooi Ong (Monash University Malaysia, @DrLinOng) followed with exciting findings on the usage of growth hormone to promote motor recovery and neurogenesis after stroke.

Changing the topic, Ms. Jessica Sharkey (University of Adelaide, @Jess_SharkeyTBI) showed the development of an ovine mild traumatic brain injury model. Then, A/Prof. Bronwyn Kivell (Victoria University of Wellington) gave a talk on ethoxymethyl ether Salvinorin B and how this kappa opioid receptor agonist could promote remyelination and functional recovery in two rodent models of multiple sclerosis.

Ms. Heidi Walkden (Griffith University, @heidi_walkden) presented a series of routes bacteria could get into the nervous systems. She showed that an injury to the nasal epithelium will increase the risk of olfactory nerve and olfactory bulb invasion by bacteria. Dr. Sarah Stephenson (Murdoch Children’s Research Institute) provided case report on complete seizure elimination and favourable neurological outcomes in five children who underwent centre-only tuber resections.

Ms. Leah Beauchamp (The University of Melbourne) gave the final talk about hyposmia or reduced ability to smell in Parkinson’s disease. She showed that hyposmia may be driven by dopamine metabolism dysregulation in the olfactory bulb. The brain is a fascinating but very delicate organ. There are still many unanswered questions in how we could fix it when it is broken.

The second session, “Pathway to Success: Paving the Way for Translational Stroke Research,” took the audience on a journey from the bench to the bedside. First up was Dr. Michelle Rank (University of Melbourne), who spoke about “Sex, stroke and the spinal cord.” Dr. Rank presented some really interesting findings on neural rewiring of the spinal cord after cortical stroke. Perhaps her most electrifying findings, however, were sex differences she found in neural signalling after and surprisingly before the injury, highlighting the importance of including both sexes in basic science research.

Next up was A/Prof. Renee Turner (University of Adelaide, @Neuro_Nay), who showed the importance of using large animal models to confirm pre-clinical findings before translation to humans. Additionally, she demonstrated how we can use cutting-edge technology to quantitatively assess motor and cognitive impairment in sheep — giving us lots of information to ruminate on.

Dr. Nicole Jones (University of New South Wales) followed with some exciting findings on the potential utility of hypoxia inducing factor-1 (HIF-1) as a target for brain repair. She showed how the negative effects of a hypoxia intervention could be circumvented by targeting the same pathway pharmacologically.

Prof. Michael O’Sullivan (University of Queensland, @COSMOS_lab) closed out the session by giving some real-world examples of the how animal models have been used to interpret observations in humans, and vice versa. In this way, complex human neurological conditions are able to be understood far more quickly using a preclinical model.

This session provided a great overview of considerations for clinical translation and highlighted how preclinical models can be instrumental in guiding and confirming clinical studies.

*Dr. Hood is a Postdoctoral Researcher at The University of Newcastle, Australia.