A drug developed at the University of Rochester Medical Center is being tested for delirium and dementia following surgery. A team of researchers from URMC and Duke University Medical Center is addressing the problem, with the help of a five-year, $2.8 million grant from the National Institutes of Aging at the National Institutes of Health.

The cause of postoperative cognitive dysfunction is not entirely understood, but the body’s immune response to surgery and subsequent inflammation throughout the body – including in the brain – likely play a role, URMC said.

The team, led by a Duke researcher, will test URMC-099 in animal models. The drug, developed by Harris Gelbard, tempers the body’s immune response and reduces inflammation.

With a $100,000 award from the UR Ventures Technology Development Fund, Gelbard will study URMC-099’s influence in a mouse model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis where immune cells in the brain and spinal cord are in overdrive, leading to inflammation.

In addition to postoperative cognitive dysfunction, the drug has been shown to reduce immune cell activation and inflammation in brain diseases like multiple sclerosis, HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder and Alzheimer’s disease.

Gelbard, director of the Center for Neurotherapeutics Discovery at URMC, is optimistic that these new disease targets will further increase the potential uses for URMC-099 and related drugs.


Photo credit: University of Rochester