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Major breakthroughs in the field of plasticity-enhancing treatments for brain damage

The consortium of FP7 project Plasticise has organised its closure meeting in September 2012 – looking now into the future! An impressive number of scientific achievements have been made in animal models of Alzheimer’s Disease, Stroke and Spinal Cord Injuries. The development of new treatments based on the promotion of plasticity in the brain and spinal cord were presented during the meeting.

These major scientific and clinical advances are the positive outcomes of 4 years of successful collaborations and exchanges between the academic, clinical and industrial teams integrated into the partnership. Plasticise has also seen the emergence of a real community of young and talented scientists who have greatly benefited from the capacity building programme implemented as part of the project and the fruitful collaborations within the consortium. The Plasticise partners are now looking towards the future and the validation of the first developed plasticity-enhancing treatments into the clinic. We present below some of the recent Plasticise research highlights: - The team of Prof. Helmchen from the University of Zurich (CH) developed a new method for long-term investigations of neuronal plasticity in the living mouse brain, which has implications for understanding pathological changes in neurological disorders. - The teams of Maria Grazia Spillantini / James Fawcett in Cambridge (UK) and Bernard Schneider / Patrick Aebischer in Lausanne (CH) have jointly asked whether memory and associated neurodegenerative processes could be restored in animal mouse models of Alzheimer’s Disease (e.g. amyloid plaques, neurofibrillary tangles) by promoting plasticity in the brain of these adult mice. - The teams of Prof. Martin Schwab (Zurich, CH) and Prof. James Fawcett (Cambridge, UK) have demonstrated that the combination of plasticity-enhancing treatments (such as anti-NogoA antibody followed by ChondroitinaseABC treatment) produces a better recovery of function after spinal cord injury in rats than either treatment alone. This novel combination treatment represents a promising approach for functional repair after spinal cord injury - Major advances have been made in clinical use and assessment of plasticity. New imaging methods have been developed by the team of Prof. Nick Ward (London, UK) for evaluating plasticity in human patients. A clinical trial of stroke patients with combined rehabilitation and plasticity-inducing Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) has been conducted by the team of Prof. John Rothwell (London, UK). - Plasticise has developed an entire capacity building programme tailored to the young scientists of the consortium, being PhD students or Post doctoral fellows.

Keywords

Regenerative medicine

Countries

Switzerland, Germany, France, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, United Kingdom

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