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Neuroscience Research

Looking at brain activity

When most people think of medical research they assume that the most advanced research comes from academic affiliations. But here at Cook Children's, we challenge that assumption. Our medical team is deeply involved in research of all kinds. We look for better ways to diagnose, treat and prevent neurological conditions ... and we look for ways to cure them.

Cook Children's is at the forefront of leading-edge clinical research and our specialists are actively participating in studies investigating a variety of conditions including epilepsy, stroke and neuromuscular disorders.

Active studies

Uncommon medicine for a common cause

We were recently named a "Center of Excellence" by the Genzyme Corporation, which is establishing a network of medical centers for a new research \ study focused on evaluation and treatment for Pompe disease, a rare hereditary neuromuscular disorder that causes progressive muscle weakness in people of all ages, but can be fatal for infants.

Clinical trials mean patients also have access to treatment options beyond what is commonly available. These are treatments that are only available through a research trial at a small number of participating hospitals across the country, and they allow us to offer innovative treatments at Cook Children's that our patients would not have access to elsewhere.

Cook Children's Neurosciences program actively participates in clinical trials sponsored by pharmaceutical companies and collaborative organizations, including the Children's Oncology Group (COG) and Texas-Oklahoma Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Consortium (TOPNOC), and we are currently collaborating in key projects with Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Boston Children's Hospital and Texas Children's Hospital, Houston. To be part of these trials, Cook Children's must meet criteria specific to each group, and successfully pass routine tests and site visits.

We also partner with our patients and parents starting on day one of the diagnosis; and it is only in the context of that relationship that we introduce the subject of research. Parents don't want to expose their children to risks, but clinical research not only advances the field of medicine, it also contributes to our cure rates here at Cook Children's. Just a few of the many projects we are focused on include:

  • Brain tumors
  • Epilepsy
  • Movement disorders
  • Psychological, emotional and developmental conditions
  • Genetics
  • Patient and family centered care

Current focus of research initiatives

Neuromodulation technology: A growing number of treatments that deliver electrical stimulation to specific parts of the brain to relieve pain, seizures, movement disorders, spasticity issues, and more. Cochlear implants and DBS are great examples these types of treatment.

Some of our latest research efforts have centered on reducing seizures, improving motor function, expanding the use of neuromodulation technology and evaluating the long-term effects of these treatments after discharge. Some of our ongoing neuroscience studies and trials include:

  • Concurrent radiation therapy, temozolomide and lomustine in the treatment of high-grade gliomas.
  • Diagnoses and outcomes in temporal lobectomies in children.
  • Vagus nerve stimulator placement in pediatric patients.
  • Amantadine in the treatment of intractable absence epilepsy.
  • Functional recovery from posterior fossa syndrome: comparison of malignant versus benign tumors.
  • Phase III randomized trial of post-radiation chemotherapy in patients with newly diagnosed ependymoma.
  • An evaluation of the use of clobazam for the treatment of refractory pediatric epilepsy.
  • Treatment of atypical tumors of the central nervous system with surgery, intensive chemotherapy and 3-D conformal radiation.
  • Patient care evaluation study of institutional brain tumors.

Experience based. Patient focused.

Database studies are one of the leading forms of research being conducted. The hospital maintains a comprehensive database of all patient cases, including diagnoses, treatments and outcomes. Using this database, researchers at Cook Children's perform studies to determine what specific treatment plans produce the best outcomes, both on a large scale and in view of varying factors such as gender, age, heredity and medical history. As a result of these disease-specific databases, physicians are able to sharpen their understanding of certain treatments and apply the most effective therapies to the appropriate patients.

Establishing an endowment

Cook Children's Health Foundation recently began an Endowed Chair program to provide our physicians with an opportunity to conduct research, create new programs and publish studies. Funding from this program has allowed us to create a comprehensive movement disorder center with a focus on pediatric deep brain stimulation (DBS). DBS has primarily been used to treat adults with Parkinson's disease. Our research, led by Warren Marks, M.D., shows promising success in the treatment of other conditions such as Tourette syndrome, dystonia and epilepsy. Working with major academic institutions across the United States and around the world, Cook Children's is laying the groundwork to develop an open database of pediatric deep brain stimulation patients. This represents collaboration on a global scale, designed to improve outcomes for patients everywhere.

chemicalsPut to the Test – How a clinical trial at Cook Children's could lead the FDA to approve medical marijuana for patients who desperately need the drug: children with debilitating epilepsy.
View Texas Monthly's Put to the Test

Opening new doors

Seeking treatment at a research hospital provides patients and their referring physicians the opportunity to give back by participating in studies that will eventually uncover better treatments for complex diseases. We solve problems that arise in these treatments. We then compile and publish these cases so other physicians and their patients can benefit from our research.

Cook Children's Clinical Research department

We're here to help.

If your child has been diagnosed, you probably have lots of questions. We can help. If you would like to schedule an appointment, refer a patient or speak to our staff, please call our offices at 682-885-2500.