This funding covers costs of a Technical Manager to manage the day-to-day running of the Facility and provide expert technical support and training for animal care, processing and data analysis; the use of high-containment amenities in which the technical team carry out experiments in a controlled environment; and a Student induction programme to introduce undergraduate biomedical science and medical students to the fields of SCI research.
A number of existing and new projects continue to grow and progress in the lab and under the leadership of Dr Simon O’Carroll, the team of specialist researchers is increasing, which in turn attracts additional funding from other sources.
- Blocking chronic inflammation – to test an existing drug (Tonabersat) to stop chronic inflammation, being carried out by Sheryl Tan and Barbara Fackelmeier (and an MSc student Miran Mrkela), is almost complete with results expected in the coming weeks.
- Use of multielectrode arrays for guidance of nerve cells – this work, being carried out by Dr Sam Paritt and Dr Zaid Aqarwe (a holder of the prestigious Neurological Foundation O’Brien Clinical Fellowship), and a PhD student Anusha Dravid, uses electrical signals to promote nerve cell growth in the cord. They have developed ways of testing the effect of electrical signals on nerve cells taken from the spinal cord and are able to place out electrodes onto the spinal cord and take readings before and after injury. They will now study the changes in signals that occur with the goal of stimulating the spinal cord to return the signals to normal.
- Targeted drug delivery – A project, carried out by an MSc student Julia Newland, to test the use of small packages (called liposomes) for targeting drugs directly to the site of a SCI has now been completed. This approach means drugs will not be broken down in the blood stream and smaller doses can be used, meaning that unwanted side-effects are less likely. The project found that they are able to target these liposomes to the cord. The next step is to further develop these to improve targeting to the cord; and then test drugs known to protect the spinal cord after injury to see if targeted delivery gives better results or means giving lower doses.