Areas of Research Interest
Ira Ronit Hebold Haraldsen (IHH) established in 2007 rapidly the "Sex on Brain European Research (SOBER)" network of European researchers. IHH serves as PI and coordinator of this multidisciplinary group, including clinical and basic science researchers from the Universities of Glasgow, Ghent, Hamburg, Amsterdam, Luxembourg, British Columbia, Davis, Minnesota and Oslo (Centre of Molecular Biology and Neuroscience, Norwegian School of Veterinary Science, Centre for Study of Human Cognition). Furthermore, IHH established a brain biobank of 100 sheep. The research focus has been to investigate how the balance between sex-specific specialization and non-sex-specific functioning of the brain is implemented and on statistical methological challenges. Recently, my group showed effects of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) on development of sex-specific cognitive and physiological patterns in animal models.
The Haraldsen group (dr.philos and senior consultant and head of the department's section for transsexualism) was established in 2007 and contributes as the translational SOBER (Sex on Brain European Research) group and is partner of the european ENIGI-group. The contribution of this group is establishing animal models to identify the role of Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone (GnRH) and its receptors in the development of non-reproductive brain areas and functions, e.g., cognitive decline in Alzheimer's disease and other cognitive impairments. Scientifically, the focus has been on links between cognitive ability and sex-specific brain function in animal models and humans by originally properly characterizing gender identity disorder patients, who are treated by GnRHR analogues (Haraldsen et al., 2007, 2009, 2010). New animal and human data imply evidence of GnRHR analogue effects on sex-specific regulation of cognitive development in aging in addition to its physiological reproductive function. Using a sheep model, SOBER has shown (Wojniusz et al., 2010) that pre-pubertal GnRHR manipulation leads to significant sex-specific cognitive changes. Furthermore, unpublished SOBER data imply that increasing gonadotropin concentrations and receptor expressions postnatally, in puberty and in middle-age influence brain development and modulate increase risk of cognitive impairment and brain disease such as AD (Patent application; 22-DEC-2009 Serial No.: 61/289,018 -US; DOFI 09116 and DOFI 09364). SOBER focuses on 4 projects: 1. 2008. Normal ageing and predispositions of pathological cognitive development in sheep (Centre of Molecular Biology and Neuroscience (CMBN) and OUS-Rikshospitalet; 1 patent application). 2. 2008 and 2010. Sex-specific GnRHR blocking effects on cognition in longterm treated young humans: (OUS-RH-UiO and 4 leading European Universities (Amsterdam, Ghent, Hamburg, Oslo); Haraldsen et al 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010). 3. 2010. A new diagnostic PET tool - F-18GnRH labelling (CMBN-OUS-RH-UiO-Norwegian Cyclotron Centre (NMS); 1 DOFI, 1 patent application in line); 4. 2010. Pathological ageing - Alzheimer's dementia: Sex-specific postnatal GnRHR blocking effects on parenchymal and perivascular amyloid deposition. A mouse model for AD, using genetic and genomic methods and multilevel imaging, including electron microscopy and in vivo multiphoton imaging (CMBN-OUS-RH; 1 DOFI; patent verification applied, see below).
Commercial relevance and patent applications filed: The SOBER group focus on the development of novel sex-specific diagnostic agents and drug development (Patent application; 22-DEC-2009 Serial No.: 61/289,018DOFI 09116 and DOFI 09364) in cooperation with Inven2 AS (formerly called Birkeland AS and Medinova). A spin-off product in cooperation with Inven2 is funded by the Innovation grant of HSØ.
All projects are funded by NFR, HSØ, Innovation grants.