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Scientists ask whether micro-scaffolding can help stem cells rebuild brain after stroke damage

10 April 2008

Inserting tiny scaffolding into the brain could dramatically reduce damage caused by strokes the UK National Stem Cell Network Annual Science Meeting will hear today (10 April). Speaking at the conference in Edinburgh, Dr Mike Modo from the Institute of Psychiatry will explain how combining scaffold microparticles with neural stem cells (NSCs) could regenerate lost brain tissue.

Strokes cause temporary loss of blood supply to the brain which results in areas of brain tissue dying - causing loss of bodily functions such as speech and movement. Neural Stem Cells offer exciting possibilities for tissue regeneration, but there are currently major limitations in delivering these cells to the brain. And while NSC transplantation has been proven to improve functional outcomes in rats with stroke damage little reduction in lesion volume has been observed.

However, with funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) neurobiologists from the Institute of Psychiatry (Dr Mike Modo & Prof Jack Price) and tissue engineers from the University of Nottingham (Prof Kevin Shakesheff) have joined forces to tackle the challenge of tissue loss as a result of stroke.

Working with rats, Dr Modo and his team are developing cell-scaffold combinations that could be injected into the brain to provide a framework inside the cavities caused by stroke so that the cells are held there until they can work their way to connect with surrounding healthy tissue.

Dr Modo explains: “We propose that using scaffold particles could support NSCs in the cavity to re-form the lost tissue and provide a more complete functional repair. The ultimate aim is to establish if this approach can provide a more efficient and effective repair process in stroke.”

The team hope their work will pave the way for NSCs to be successfully used in clinical settings to re-develop parts of the brain damaged by stroke and neurodegenerative diseases.

ENDS

Notes to editors

This research is being carried out by Dr Mike Modo and Professor Jack Price from the Institute of Psychiatry and Professor Kevin Shakesheff from the University of Nottingham.

This research is being presented at the UK National Stem Cell Network Inaugural Science Meeting at the Edinburgh Conference Centre on 10 April 2008.

The conference is a showcase of the best and latest UK stem cell science across all stem cell disciplines.

The UK National Stem Cell Network acts as a network of the existing regional stem cell networks in the UK, to bring coordination and coherence to a range of national and regional activities in the field of stem cell research.

The UKNSCN secretariat receives financial support from four of the UK Research Councils:

  • Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)
  • Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
  • Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
  • Medical Research Council (MRC)

The Network represents the UK stem cell research community and is run through an independent Steering Committee. Initially, the secretariat is operated by BBSRC on behalf of all the Government sponsors of stem cell research, including the Research Councils, the Department of Health and the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills.

About BBSRC

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) is the UK funding agency for research in the life sciences. Sponsored by Government, BBSRC annually invests around £380 million in a wide range of research that makes a significant contribution to the quality of life for UK citizens and supports a number of important industrial stakeholders including the agriculture, food, chemical, healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors. http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk

External contact

Dr Mike Modo

tel: 020 7848 5315

Contact

Matt Goode, Head of External Relations

tel: 01793 413299

Tracey Jewitt, Media Officer

tel: 01793 414694
fax: 01793 413382