Currently, the Foundation has identified five general areas of research that we believe are necessary to investigate in the search to discover better therapies to treat IH and ultimately, find a cure. Below, you’ll find a description of each area and you can continue reading about our progress by clicking on “Research News” at the end.
Animal Model: An animal model is essential when it comes to learning about a particular illness. It is needed to achieve all major research advances, including the development of new drugs and surgical treatments. Currently, no animal model exists for intracranial hypertension. The discovery of such a model would be a significant accomplishment, bringing us much closer to understanding—and curing—chronic IH.
Drug and Device Development: No drug has ever been specifically developed to treat intracranial hypertension. Both optic nerve sheath fenestrations and neurosurgical shunt surgeries have changed very little since the nineteenth-century, when they were first performed.
One of our main goals is to find better treatments for chronic IH. With the confirmation of an IH animal model, it will be possible to find and test more effective drugs and devices (such as an improved shunt that doesn’t become blocked), as well as encourage pharmaceutical and medical device companies to become involved in this process.
Non-Invasive Intracranial Pressure Monitoring: Currently, intracranial pressure can only be measured by invasive means— through a spinal tap or a temporary catheter surgically placed through a hole in the skull. These techniques give a limited picture of intracranial hypertension and as invasive procedures, carry risks. Non-invasive methods of pressure monitoring, possibly using ultrasound or MRI technology, could transform the way we think about and treat chronic IH, as well as other maladies in which IH plays a role, such as traumatic brain injury.
Basic Science: Why does intracranial hypertension happen? How does it evolve? Why do some people develop chronic IH and others don’t? Is chronic IH genetic? These are some of the very questions that lead to the inception of the IH Registry, the world’s first chronic IH patient registry. Understanding what goes wrong when IH occurs is key to discovering how to treat and cure it.
Better Diagnostic Criteria: Diagnosis of chronic IH can be difficult because the disorder is not well-understood or well-defined. As a result, misdiagnosis is prevalent. It is crucial to discover whether other important biological clues exist but have remained unexamined. One of the purposes of the IH Registry and the newly-created Neuro-Imaging Library is to give researchers the opportunity to study medical and imaging data from chronic IH patients for such clues, which if found, could make diagnosis much easier.
Equally important is the recruitment of IH researchers. Without the talent and innovative thinking of interested scientists and clinicians, no medical advances can be achieved. This is why the Foundation is committed to developing a new generation of IH clinical and laboratory researchers through such measures as the sponsorship of research conferences, targeted recruitment in collaboration with other organizations or institutions and future fellowships for young researchers.
To find out about news on chronic IH research and our progress in these key areas, please click here: Research News.