Neurogenesis and Neural Transplantation Laboratory
Our laboratory is interested in the idea that stem cells can repair the damaged brain.
There are two broad strategies we are pursuing.
The first is neural transplantation. It is an approach that has had some success clinically for Parkinson’s disease and involves the transplantation of new neurons directly into the patient’s brain in order to functionally compensate for those lost to the disease. We are continuing to explore and optimise this as a therapeutic option not only for Parkinson’s disease but also for other neurological conditions such as stroke and motor neuron disease.
The second strategy is based on the idea that the brain retains some capacity for ‘self-repair’ through neurogenesis. Part of our research program seeks to characterise the brain’s own capacity to generate new neurons in response to injury and to manipulate this response in favour of therapeutic outcomes.
For a long time it was thought the adult brain lacked the capacity to generate new neurons. We now know that adult neurogeneis occurs in very restricted regions in the mammalian brain throughout life and may become comprimised in age-related neurological conditions. This has lead to the idea that neurogenesis can be manipulated to facilitate 'brain repair' after injury or stimulated to offset age-related cognitive decline.
Our laboratory is pursuing a number of projects that seek to understand the capacity for neurons generated from human stem cells to structurally and functionally replace neuronal circuitry after intra-cerebral transplantation. This may lead to theapies that restore function to patients with neurological conditions arising from injury or brain disease.
We are very excited to be hosting the 14th International Symposium of Neural Transplantation and Repair in Port Douglas, September 13-16. It is the first time the meeting will be held in Australia and is a great opportunity for interaction between the Australasian and international research communities in the area of regenerative approaches for CNS repair. For more information please see the INTR2017 website.
Recent and Current Funding
Scientists in the Neurodegeneration division interrogate how neurones live, die and can be rescued to improve brain function in degenerative conditions such as Parkinson’s and Motor Neuron Diseases. There is no effective treatment for Motor Neurone Disease and the incidence of Parkinson’s Disease is rising alarmingly in our aging community. Gene abnormalities, energy deprivation, toxic rubbish accumulation and inflammation all contribute to a toxic environment for brain cells. Our teams study these events in animal models and cultured cells, with a view to translating knowledge into new therapies for human patients.