John van Geest Centre for Brain Repair

School of Clinical Medicine

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What is Brain Repair?

What is Brain Repair?

The objectives of brain repair are:

  1. To prevent or minimise the damage to the brain and spinal cord that results from injury or disease
  2. To repair the structure of the brain and spinal cord so as to return normal neurological function to patients.

Protecting the brain and spinal cord from damage

Preventing chronic damage to the nervous system

The basis of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, prion diseases and Huntington’s disease is the steady loss of neurons over several years. A major factor leading to this loss is the toxicity of various proteins that are deposited as insoluble aggregates inside and outside the neurons. Many researchers are looking for ways to prevent these aggregates forming, or to remove them once they have formed. Much of the biology of how aggregates are formed and why they are toxic is starting to be understood. This should lead before long to treatments that will slow the progression of chronic neurodegenerative diseases.

Minimising the damage after injury or stroke

When the brain or spinal cord is injured some neurons are killed by the immediate injury, and there is little prospect of rescuing them. Similarly after stroke a blood vessel supplying part of the brain becomes blocked, and this part of the brain dies rapidly due to lack of oxygen. After the initial injury or stroke a secondary process which takes several days is initiated which leads to the injury at least doubling in size. Many of the mechanisms behind this spread of the injury are understood, and several treatments have been identified that are successful in protecting injuries in animal models. However to date none of these treatments have been successful in humans.

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