Brain and spinal cord injury repair
Several of the groups in the Wolfson CARD are trying to understand the mechanisms that cause damage to the spinal cord following an injury, damage to the brain that follows stroke, or the damage to the brain that is associated with a dementia like Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease. Perhaps more importantly, the groups are trying to devise methods to repair the damage.
A common mechanism that might promote restoration of function in each condition is to limit the ongoing neuronal death that can ensue in these conditions and encourage the surviving neurons to make new connections, over short or long distances as this type of "neural plasticity" is known to be beneficial. We are taking a number of complementary approaches to achieve this goal. For example the Bradbury lab are pioneering the use of an enzymatic treatment that makes the environment less hostile to axonal growth and regeneration following spinal injury.
The Moon lab are identifying new molecules that limit spinal cord repair and also evaluating the use of neuronal growth factors for their ability to limit the damage to the brain that follows a stroke. Susan Duty and colleagues are exploring mechanisms to increase the level of a different factor neuronal growth to limit the brain damage that causes Parkinson's disease. The Corcoran lab are developing new drugs to reactivate growth pathways in both the damaged peripheral nervous system and in Alzheimer's disease. Finally a number of groups are using an innovative bioinformatics approach to see if drugs that are currently used to treat other conditions can be "repurposed" as a novel therapy for Alzheimer's disease.