Ajay Kumar

Wayne State University researcher Ajay Kumar.

Detroit, Mich. — Wayne State University researcher and physician Ajay Kumar has won an award for his work in identifying a brain inflammation associated with strep infections in children.

The university said that Kumar has received the Majd-Gilday Young Investigators Award from the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging.

The Indian American researcher received the honor at the society's annual meeting in St. Louis last month.

The award goes to young scientists for outstanding research contributions to the field of pediatric nuclear medicine.

Wayne State said Kumar earned the recognition for a study that may help increase the understanding of “pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders'' linked to streptococcal infections.

The university said Kumar's work could lead to “improved therapies to treat the condition.''

Kumar and his team used Positron Emission Tomography with 11C-[R]-PK11195, a marker that can be injected into patients, to evaluate inflammatory changes in basal ganglia and the thalamus in children diagnosed with PANDAS, as well as children with Tourette syndrome, who demonstrate potentially overlapping clinical symptoms.

They found brain inflammation in the basal ganglia in both the groups, but with some significant differences in the pattern and extent of the inflammatory changes.

“These findings not only provide an insight into the possible pathogenetic mechanisms behind these conditions, but also suggest a possible important pathophysiological difference between these two conditions,” Kumar said in a press release.

“We believe that our findings will help in further demystifying and better understanding this condition, which will lead to development of rational and more appropriate therapeutic options.”

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