Scientists ask whether microscaffolding can help stem cells rebuild brain after stroke damage

Inserting tiny scaffolding into the brain could dramatically reduce damage caused by strokes the UK National Stem Cell Network Annual Science Meeting will hear today (10 April). Speaking at the conference in Edinburgh, Dr Mike Modo from the Institute of Psychiatry will explain how combining scaffold microparticles with neural stem cells (NSCs) could regenerate lost brain tissue.

Strokes cause temporary loss of blood supply to the brain which results in areas of brain tissue dying - causing loss of bodily functions such as speech and movement. Neural Stem Cells offer exciting possibilities for tissue regeneration, but there are currently major limitations in delivering these cells to the brain. And while NSC transplantation has been proven to improve functional outcomes in rats with stroke damage little reduction in lesion volume has been observed.

However, with funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) neurobiologists from the Institute of Psychiatry (Dr Mike Modo & Prof Jack Price) and tissue engineers from the University of Nottingham (Prof Kevin Shakesheff) have joined forces to tackle the challenge of tissue loss as a result of stroke.

Working with rats, Dr Modo and his team are developing cell-scaffold combinations that could be injected into the brain to provide a framework inside the cavities caused by stroke so that the cells are held there until they can work their way to connect with surrounding healthy tissue.

Dr Modo explains: “We propose that using scaffold particles could support NSCs in the cavity to re-form the lost tissue and provide a more complete functional repair. The ultimate aim is to establish if this approach can provide a more efficient and effective repair process in stroke.”

The team hope their work will pave the way for NSCs to be successfully used in clinical settings to re-develop parts of the brain damaged by stroke and neurodegenerative diseases.

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