Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Final Activity Report Summary - STEM CELL REGULATION (Regulation of adult neural stem cell quiescence and proliferation)

According to WHO estimates, more than 20% of the European population will be aged 60 and above in 2020. The increase in the prevalence of age-related degenerative diseases and cancer poses an increasing challenge to European society and public health, and demands the development of new treatment strategies for these diseases. The goal of the STEM CELL REGULATION is to significantly contribute to the development of new treatment options for age-associated neuropsychiatric diseases by deciphering mechanisms that will promote the recruitment of stem cells for repair of the diseased central nervous system. The strategy of the research group is to identify the mechanisms that control the formation of neurons from stem cells under physiological and to translate these findings into strategies for stem cell-based regeneration in the disease context.

Since its instalment in spring 2007, STEM CELL REGULATION has established a multidisciplinary research platform for the study of adult neurogenesis and neural stem cells. Our research has uncovered novel regulatory mechanisms that control the formation of new neurons from stem cells in the adult brain. Key findings are the identification of Notch- and Wnt-signalling as central regulators of the balance between stem cell maintenance and differentiation and the identification of the CREB-signalling pathway as a neural network activity controlled pathway that is essential for survival and functional integration of stem cell derived neurons. Moreover, the team has significantly contributed to the new concept, that cognitive dysfunction in neurodegenerative diseases may in part be related to stem cell failure and impaired adult neurogenesis. These achievements form the technological and scientific basis for our current projects that aim to promote stem cell activity and neurogenesis to ameliorate cognitive and to harness stem cells for repair in preclinical models for Parkinson's Disease.

STEM CELL REGULATION has significantly contributed to the development of stem cell research and research in neuro-regeneration in Europe. The Marie Curie Excellence Team recruited of young talented researchers to the European Research Area and contributed to the education of junior researchers in neural stem cell biology and neuro-regeneration. Overall researchers from 6 countries (Turkey, Czech Republic, China, Austria, Germany, Greece) were part of the research team. Four PhD students are expected to finish their thesis work with excellent scientific results by the end of 2011. The team coordinates one research consortium and is part of two additional transnational research networks involving laboratories from Germany and Austria that investigate the potential of neural stem cells for repair. Finally, our team has established collaborations with partners throughout Europe (Spain, Switzerland, France, Austria, Sweden), thereby strengthening research interactions and collaborative work in the European Research Area.

The recognition of our research is documented by the publication record, active collaborations with national and international partners, invitations to international symposia, and awards of highly competitive grants and PhD student stipends. Most importantly, the research group is integrated in several research networks that focus on the development of stem cell-based regenerative therapies and that are funded by the BMBF, the State of Bavaria, and the Helmholtz Association. It is also noteworthy, that the group leader successfully passed the tenure track evaluation in 2010. Finally, the research group has significantly contributed to the career development and education of young researchers and to public education in science. Since the start of the junior research group, two PhD students have finished their thesis with excellent marks. Postdoctoral students have obtained leading positions in pharmaceutical industry and in scientific administration.

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