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Can micro-scaffolding help stem cells rebuild the brain after stroke?

APRIL 11, 2008

Inserting tiny scaffolding into the brain could dramatically reduce damage caused by strokes, Dr Mike Modo from the Institute of Psychiatry at King's told the UK National Stem Cell Network Annual Science Meeting earlier this month..  Speaking at the conference in Edinburgh, Dr Mike Modo explained 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 and Professor Jack Price together with tissue engineers from the University of Nottingham, led by Professor Kevin Shakesheff, have joined forces to tackle the challenge of tissue loss as a result of stroke.
Working with an animal model, 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.
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 was presented at the UK National Stem Cell Network Inaugural Science Meeting at the Edinburgh Conference Centre on 10 April 2008.
The conference was 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.
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