Newswise — LOS ANGELES (Dec. 21, 2018) -- Researchers and clinicians in the neurosciences at Cedars-Sinai had a busy 2018, producing a number of significant studies that shed light on neurological conditions affecting millions of Americans.

“Cedars-Sinai has long been known for the quality of its clinical care, but the research being done here is a core part of our mission," said Keith L. Black, MD, chair of the Department of Neurosurgery. "Our researchers and clinicians are working together to better understand the intricate workings of the brain and to develop treatments for a host of diseases. I expect that work, exemplified by the papers published this year, will yield results that will have a significant impact on the way patients are treated in the coming years.”

Among the year’s highlights was a study that found prolonged exposure to particulate matter in air pollution can cause changes in the brain. These changes could make people more susceptible to cancer, Alzheimer's disease and other neurological disorders. 

Julia Ljubimova, MD, PhD, director of the Nanomedicine Research Center at Cedars-Sinai, was the lead author of the paper, published in the peer-reviewed journal, Scientific Reports. The study focused on the Los Angeles region and expanded on previous research that found an association between air pollution and a variety of diseases, including cancer. 

Mapping another area of the brain, research from Ueli Rutishauser, PhD, an associate professor in the Department of Neurosurgery, offered insight on how the human brain rapidly forms new memories. 

Rutishauser's work, published in the peer-reviewed journal Current Biology, found that dopamine neurons play a critical role in the formation of episodic memory, which allows people to remember such things as where they parked their car and what they had for dinner last night. The findings could aid researchers developing new treatments for patients with memory disorders. 

Nestor R. Gonzalez, MD, professor of Neurosurgery and director of the Neurovascular Laboratory, presented findings from a Phase IIa clinical trial at the World Stroke Congress in Montreal. The study of a surgical technique called EDAS (encephaloduroarteriosynangiosis) showed that the method significantly decreases the rate of stroke recurrence and death for patients with severe plaque buildup in arteries in the brain. 

Neurosurgeons performing EDAS reroute arteries from the scalp and the membranes that cover the brain and place them under the skull near areas of the brain at risk of stroke. Over time, new blood vessels form, creating fresh pathways for blood and oxygen to reach the brain.

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Journal Link: neurosciences at Cedars-Sinai