Los Angeles,
03:00 PM

2019: Scorpion Venom Leads Developments in Neuroscience

Investigators at Cedars-Sinai, led by neurosurgeon Adam Mamelak, MD, completed a Phase I trial in 2019 of a unique substance derived from scorpion venom, which, used in combination with a special high-sensitivity, near-infrared camera developed at Cedars-Sinai, allows neurosurgeons to better detect boundaries between brain tumor tissue and healthy brain. Technologies like this have the potential to help surgeons better remove some of the most deadly types of brain tumors.

This wasn't the only neurological advancement made by Cedars-Sinai physicians and scientists in 2019. The Neurology and Neurosurgery departments had a busy year, producing a number of significant studies that shed light on neurological conditions affecting millions of Americans.

"Research and clinical care go hand in hand at Cedars-Sinai," said Keith L. Black, MD, chair of the Department of Neurosurgery. "Our research and clinical teams are working together on the leading edge of medicine to further our understanding of the brain and nervous system, and to develop treatments for a host of diseases."

The year's highlights include:

  • A retrospective study, led by investigator Marwa Kaisey, MD, found that nearly 18% of patients diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at other institutions before being referred to Cedars-Sinai or UCLA were actually misdiagnosed with the autoimmune disease. Investigators hope that the study results, along with research into new biomarkers and improved imaging techniques, will help improve diagnostic procedures and prevent future misdiagnoses.
  • In June, a gift from the family of the late real estate developer Jona Goldrich founded the Jona Goldrich Center for Alzheimer's and Memory Disorders, where physician-scientists will work on developing new patient-care therapies that address the challenges of the rapidly growing population of patients with Alzheimer's disease and other memory disorders.
  • Julia Ljubimova, MD, PhD, published a mouse study in the journal Nature Communications, showing the use of immunotherapy to fight some of the most deadly brain tumors using innovative nanomedicine to pass through the blood-brain barrier.
  • In September, Cedars-Sinai was named the coordinating center for a National Institutes of Health-funded, multicenter study that will assess the effectiveness of six potential stroke therapies. The study will also examine whether applying higher standards of rigor to early phases of research might produce results that are more likely to succeed in human clinical trials.
  • To close out the year, the Ray Charles Foundation provided a generous gift to establish the Ray Charles Foundation Scholars Fund in Neurosurgery, a scholarship that offers recipients opportunities for research, mentorship and career guidance under the leadership of Cedars-Sinai's neurosciences faculty.

"These advances in research and clinical care made 2019 an exciting year in the neurosciences," said Nancy Sicotte, MD, chair of the Department of Neurology. "We look forward to making even more strides in the coming year."