SmartTots Solicits Proposals to Investigate Effects of Anesthetics in Kids
Studies to Determine Clinical Relevance of Alarming Animal Data
SmartTots (Strategies for Mitigating Anesthesia-Related neuroToxicity in Tots) issued its first Request for Applications today to solicit research proposals aimed at investigating whether anesthetics and sedatives impede the normal development of the human brain. Recent studies in animals show that exposure to commonly used anesthetics is neurotoxic, i.e., it causes significant neurodegenerative changes in the central nervous system and long-lasting behavioral impairments. Funded studies will investigate how relevant these results are to clinical practice.
With millions of infants and young children receiving anesthesia each year in the United States alone, understanding the implications of the animal data is an important public health concern. Thus far, neither the scientific nor medical communities have enough evidence to support or refute whether anesthetics administered to young children yield developmental consequences. SmartTots is dedicating its initial research priorities to making this determination.
"The animal data suggests the concern in humans is potentially a real one," said Dr. Vesna Jevtovic-Todorovic, SmartTots Scientific Advisory Board Member and active pioneer in the field. “It’s vital we make this determination early on, so we can proceed with preventative measures, alternative treatments and new practice guidelines, if needed.”
SmartTots is permitting investigators to devise the scope of their investigations with the intent of generating the most creative and promising studies possible. Studies in any species will be considered, provided they get us closer to understanding the existence and nature of anesthetic-induced developmental or behavioral consequences in humans. Additional areas of interest include verifying whether a specific frequency, duration or timing of anesthetic exposure is correlated with neurotoxicity and/or behavioral function in children.
“We are eager to fund some investigations and start producing the evidence needed to inform clinical practice,” said Dr. Alex Evers, SmartTots Scientific Advisory Board Co-Chair. “We need to understand whether we do in fact have an issue, and if so, define the mechanisms causing that issue before we attempt to identify and implement a solution.”
Proposed investigations will be reviewed by the SmartTots Scientific Advisory Board, a multidisciplinary team of experts appointed to evaluate the scientific merit of SmartTots funded research projects. The Scientific Advisory Board will fund projects based on their relevance and probability of success. All generated data will be placed in the public domain.