Education and Professional Standing
- PhD Veterinary Pathology, University of Guelph, 1995
- MSc Veterinary Pathology, University of Guelph, 1991
- DVM, University of Agriculture (Poland), 1983
Research and Clinical Focus
By training a veterinarian, veterinary pathologist, comparative neuropathologist and neuroscientist, I conduct studies examining cellular events taking place in the functional regeneration in the adult central nervous system (CNS). For my research I use unique rat models devoid of myelin, an insulator along the nerve processes (axons) which is necessary for proper function in axons. Loss of myelin, particularly well known in Multiple Sclerosis, brain and spinal cord injury, results in permanent and devastating neurologic deficits in human patients. Although massive damage to myelin such as in the spinal cord injury leads to a very destructive and chronic pathology called leukomyelitis, temporary removal of myelin from a targeted area of white matter can lead to axonal plasticity and their regeneration.
In an international collaborative effort we focus on analyzing pathology of natural progression of the spinal cord injury, a still poorly understood and intractable disease. We strive to understand the disease, to effectively treat it and to monitor its progress by developing imaging modalities suitable to observe pathologic changes in experimental animals and then in patients.
Trauma to white matter as is common I the spinal cord injury results in a bi-phasic course of pathology; an initial acute tissue damage involves acute vascular events including hemorrhage, edema and ischemia that lead to cell necrosis and acute pro-inflammatory pathways. This distinct phase lasts >48 hrs in the rat model and has been extensively studied by others. It is followed by a phagocytic inflammatory phase where a pure population of macrophages target damaged myelin and in mechanism of vicious cycle destroys myelin and tissue in areas adjacent to the site of injury leading to more macrophage chemotaxis. A cystic cavity forms and grows where this process is localized but persists for many weeks until it dies out and a large cyst filled with cerebrospinal fluid replaces the tissue of the spinal cord with irreversible loss of tissue and neurological function.
We inhibited leukomyelitis with subdural infusion of a high dose of dexmethasone into the vicinity of the site of injury in experimental rats. Effectively, we stopped the progression of the destruction of the spinal cord and thus inhibited the loss of the neurologic function. Currently, using a balloon crush rat model we are working on optimizing the treatment with subdural infusion of dexamethasone.
Since the spinal cord injury remains a poorly understood disease from pathology stand point, we conduct a systematic study analyzing histological changes in the spinal cord from day 1 to week 16 post-balloon crush in parallel with MRI scanning of the lesions. This large study will serve to understand how inflammatory damage of the spinal cord tissue occurs, what is the compensatory reaction of the tissue and how and when leukomyelitis is extinguished in a natural fashion. Utilizing MRI scan supported by parallel histopathology will allow to develop accurate interpretation of MR images in longitudinal studies in preclinical and then in clinical studies on novel treatments.
Once the severity of leukomyelitis is successfully inhibited, designs for neuroregeneration of the white matter loss in the spinal cord injury accident can be executed.
Affiliations with Research Centres
While the mutant dysmyelinated rats are bred and raised at McMaster University, and neurosurgeries are performed at McMaster as well, some tissues are analyzed in excellent laboratories around the continent specializing in studies on CNS regeneration.
My research collaborators include investigators from:
- Sunnybrook Research Institute, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
- Medical University of Lublin, Poland
- The Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Prague
- Mechanisms of leukomyelitis ina spinal cord injury model
- Pharmacol;ogical inhibition of leukomyelitis
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the spinal cord injury
The development of animal models of:
- Pathology of spinal cord injury
- MR imaging of spinal cord injury
- Subdural infusion for pharmacological intervention in spinal cord injury