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The Brain Repair Group

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September 2013

INTR12

The Brain Repair Group hosted the XIIth International Symposium of Neural Transplantation and Restoration held 3rd-5th September. The symposium opened with a welcome reception in the galleries of the National Museum and an open public lecture on “the background and future of pluripotency and cellular reprogramming” by the 2012 Nobel laureate Sir John Gurdon (University of Cambridge), introduced by the 2007 laureate Prof Sir Martin Evans (chancellor, Cardiff University). The main symposium then comprised major lectures, platform and poster presentations, held in the Hilton Hotel Cardiff. The symposium was attended by 140 international scientists, and received many glowing testimonies of the quality interest and openness of the start of the art science in the latest cell transplantation, gene and growth factor therapies for brain damage and neurodegenerative disease.

 

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February 2013

REPAIR-HD

The EU have announced funding a major new € 6 million international collaboration to be coordinated by Profs Anne Rosser and Stephen Dunnett of the Cardiff Brain Repair Group. The grant is an RTD collaboration award under the FP7 framework program, and brings together teams from Cardiff University itself with colleagues in Edinburgh, Manchester, Paris France, Munster Germany, and Padua Italy. The work plan is to validate differentiation and preparation protocols of clinical grade stem cells suitable for use in clinical trials in Huntington’s disease, along with development of the patient assessment protocols, ethical and regulatory frameworks, and surgical delivery methods, in order to launch a first-in-man clinical trial of stem cell-derived cell replacement therapy in this devastating neurodegenerative disease.

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April 2012

Professor Anne Rosser, LSW was elected to fellowship of the Learned Society of Wales. The Society, which was formed in 2010 to represent Welsh learning, elects its fellows against the criterion of a demonstrable record of excellence and achievement in an academic discipline.

 

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March 2012

Donation towards Parkinson's research

The BrainRepair Group would like to extend their thanks to the Union of Catholic Mothers, Christ the King, Llanishen, who very kindly donated the sum of £1011.64 to help support our research into Parkinson's disease. We very much appreciate the hard work that goes into fund raising efforts, and on March 28th, several representatives from the group visited the lab to learn more about the work that we do. The donation will be put towards the cost of a PCR machine, which is used for analysis of gene expression in cells.

 

 

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January 2012

New Research Award from Cure Huntington’s Disease Initiative

The CHDI has awarded a major 3 year £904,000 research fellowship to Dr Simon Brooks of the Brain Repair Group, working in conjunction with Prof Stephen Dunnett and Dr Lesley Jones (School of Medicine). The award will fund studies combining behavioural, anatomical and genetic analysis of novel genetic models of Huntington’s disease in mice. The results will provide new insights into the role played by the length of the CAG expansion in the mutant huntingtin gene on the emergence of abnormal cellular processes causing pathology in particular brain systems, underlying the emergence of specific patterns of motor, cognitive and ‘behavioural’ dysfunction as the animals age, and will provide a better framework within which to assess novel therapeutics designed to slow, halt and ultimately cure the disease.

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December 2011

New President of NECTAR

Dr Emma Lane takes over as the new president of NECTAR, the Network of European CNS Transplantation and Repair at the 21st Annual meeting, held in Cambridge 8-9th of December 2011.

Link to full details

 

Early breaking news:
The 23rd annual meeting of NECTAR will be held in conjunction with the International Symposium on Neural Transplantation and Restoration (INTR-12) in Cardiff 2013. The joint meetings will be hosted by Dr Emma Lane and the Brain Repair Group, and will be held at the Welsh School of Music in Cardiff in mid-September 2013.

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November 2011

Cardiff Fetal Tissue Bank licence submission

The prolonged process for design, specification and validation of our specialist ‘medical grade’ laboratory for preparing human tissues for use in clinical trials passed a significant milestone with our submission to the Human Tissue Authority for a human use licence. This licence provides the formal regulatory accreditation that will allow us to prepare and deliver human fetal tissues for use in clinical trials of novel cell therapies in full compliance with the highest standards of ‘good manufacturing practice’. Forthcoming trials of improved methods for cell transplantation therapy are planned for both Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease.

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October 2011

New substantive Neuromethods book released

Animal Models of Movement Disorders : Volumes I and II

Prof Stephen Dunnett (School of Biosciences) co-edits with Dr Emma Lane (Welsh School of Pharmacy), this new major publication from Springer Protocols, Volumes No. 61 and No. 62 in the Springer Humana Press Neuromethods series:

contents of Volume I (ISBN: 978-1-61779-297-7)

contents of Volume II (ISBN: 978-1-61779-300-4)

 

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April 2011

Professor Stephen Dunnett LSW was elected to fellowship of the newly founded Learned Society of Wales. A list of the new fellows in the report of the first annual round of elections is shown here.

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March 2011

Prof Anne Rosser, co-director of the Brain Repair Group spoke at a reception in the Senedd to launch the Rare Disease UK’s report: "Improving Lives, Optimising Resources: How a strategy for rare diseases will benefit the people of Wales."

Prof Rosser spoke about The European Huntington's Disease Network and the benefits from being able to work on a pan-European level so that researchers may network together in order to learn and understand more about the condition and develop new ways to treat and manage this rare disease.

For more information visit www.raredisease.org.uk

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October 2010

Successful research funding year for Biosciences - The School of Biosciences achieved a 12 per cent increase in new research funding in the last year, with grants of more than £14M.

The grants were almost exclusively from major UK and European funding bodies, with approximately 50 per cent from UK Research Councils - representing important new resources coming into the Welsh economy. Among the School’s many significant award winners were Professor Steve Dunnett and Professor Anne Rosser who head the Brain Repair Group. They are currently partners in four different European consortia, each with funding of £0.5M to £1M. Professor Dunnett said: “One of the things which makes us distinctive is having two Principal Investigators. I’m a basic scientist, while Anne is a consultant neurologist and a clinical scientist. This means we have a genuinely translational approach, going from understanding what is happening at the cellular level to therapies for the patient.” The Group is established as one of the two UK leaders for researching tissue transplant in the treatment of degenerative brain disease. Professor Dunnett himself has been in the field for more than 30 years and has established a network of research partners around Europe. Professor Dunnett said: Our programme is all about building research understanding about what goes wrong in the brain with diseases like Parkinson’s and Huntington’s. “We are then looking to develop cells which can treat the disease, and understand how they can survive and function when transplanted into the brain.” The team is currently creating a “clean room” to Human Tissue Authority standards which will enable clinical trials of transplants in Huntington’s patients. The team is also looking at Parkinson’s Disease, where tissue grafts into patients’ brains have already been shown to have dramatic effects. The Brain Repair Group is now aiming to understand better some of the side- effects of treatment, and how the success rate can be improved further. Professor Dunnett said: “Cells will need reliable delivery techniques, testing and quality control. For Huntington’s ourprogramme for the next ten years is to establish the infrastructure and expertisefor handling these transplants in theclinical setting. It’s a very big challenge.” The School also won several other new grants of considerable strategic importance. These include a £0.7M share of a €2M iSAM (integrated Analysis of the Shoot Apical Meristem) award as part of the European Systems Biology Initiative, co-ordinated by Professor Jim Murray and Dr. Walter DeWitte. The CRUK Cardiff Cancer Research UK Centre, directed by Professor Alan Clarke, secured £0.7M for the School. There were also substantial new grant awards totaling £0.6M to Dr. Helen White-Cooper. Director of the School of Biosciences, Professor Ole Petersen FRS, whohimself received the first Medical Research Council Professorship award in Wales (£0.9M), said: “This hasbeen a great year for the School withregard to new research grant awards from major funding bodies, who base their decisions on rigorous peer review processes. The competition for such grant awards is currently fierce and only those with outstanding publication records are successful.”

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September 2010

Visit from Chinese Medical University

A delegation from the China Medical University, Shenyang, to the School of Biosciences was hosted by Professors Stephen Dunnett, Nick Allen and Frank Sengpiel. After their visit CFU president, professor Zhao Du, said "we were very impressed by the depth and breadth of your work in the Biosciences", and he has suggested founding new positions for CMU postdoctoral scientists to undertake one year placements in the Brain Repair Group.

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January 2010

New EU FP7 award

The Brain Repair group is a partner in the EU Framework 7 TRANSEURO programme. We consider that the problems that dogged earlier trials of cell transplants in Parkinson's disease patients - a limited efficacy and 'dyskinesia' side effects in some patients - have largely been resolved through a systematic process of critical laboratory research over the last decade. Now, an international consortium of leading centres for neurotransplantation across Europe are collaborating to prepare and launch two new clinical trials of human embryonic cell transplantation for Parkinson's disease. The BRG is playing a leading role both in validating the methods of cell preparation and procurement, and as one of the clinical centres for patient trials.

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December 2009

French Parliamentary Visit to the BRG

Two representatives of the French parliament, M. Cleays and M. Vialette, visited the Brain Repair group on a fact finding tour relating to the impact of stem cell regulations on scientific and medical progress. In the context of forthcoming changes in French legislation on the legality of stem cell research involving human embryos, they had a wide ranging discussion with BRG PIs Anne Rosser, Nick Allen and Steve Dunnett about how the approach adopted in the UK - permissive legislation with close regulatory oversight - had allowed rapid advances in stem cell biology in our country, and the ways in which bureaucratic administratin can nevertheless still slow progress. We were keen to emphasise that UK experience supported the advantage of not proscribing any line of research so long as it is subject to independent scientific and ethical oversight and is properly justified with appropriate controls.

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26th - 28th November 2009

NECTAR
Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff

NECTAR is the Network for European Cell Transplantation and Repair. It was formed 18 years ago by scientists, researchers and clinicians working on Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease. This year the conference is being organised by the Brain Repair Group.

The conference provides a unique opportunity for members to come together to discuss and plan progress on cell and gene therapy related to the nervous system. It has evolved as the primary and most focussed international meeting in Europe on neural repair and neuro-regeneration, and we expect this meeting to take on further importance in the future as stem cell technologies improve and progress ever closer towards clinical trials.

 

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August 2009

The Brain Repair Group wishes to congratulate Dr Emma Lane, a former member of the team, who has been appointed to a lectureship in the Welsh School of Pharmacy.

 

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April & July 2009

Two milestone papers published in Nature journals:

Reporting on a new method of neonatal tolerisation to allow host animals to receive human xenografts without the need for chronic treatment with immunosuppression drugs, markedly improving animal welfare in comparison with conventional methods (CM Kelly et al. Nature Methods 6:271-3).

Reviewing behavioural tests to assess normal and genetically modified mice, to enhancing the sensivitity to develop new drug and cell therapies for neurodegenerative diseases of the brain (SP Brooks & SB Dunnett, Nature Reviews Neuroscience 10:519-29).

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December 2008

Two new EU FP7 awards

The Brain Repair Group is selected as a partner in two international Health research consortia funded by the Framework 7 Programme of the European Union.
The first, "NeuroStemCell", is working to characterise alternative sources of pluripotent stem and iPS cells, and preparing them for use as effective cell therapies in Huntington's and Parkinson's disease.
The second, "Replaces", is seeking to understand normal and abnormal neuroplasticity in the striatum, in particular as it relates to our search to control side effects such as l-dopa-induced dyskinesias of otherwise effective treatments fror Parkinson's disease.
Both consortia agreements run for 4 years, and will bring more than €1 million in added research funds into the Brain Repair Group.

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December 2008PDS logo

The Brain Repair Group were delighted to host a 'Meet the Scientists' day, where members of our local Parkinson's Disease Society branches visited the lab to learn about our research and see where monies raised have been spent. Read more in Cardiff news

 

As last year, we extend our thanks to local branches of the Parkinson's Disease Society that continue to support our research during 2008. In particular we wish to thank Mr D Hackett and members of the Louth branch, Bridgend, South Powys, Cheltenham & district, Chester and district and the Cardiff branch.

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June 2008

IBNS LogoProfessor Stephen Dunnett receives the KNOXXe award of the InternationalBehavioural Neuroscience Society and presents a plenary lecture at the annual meeting of the society, held 17-21 June 2008 at Frenchman’s Creek, St Thomas, Virgin Islands.

 

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June 2008

Dr Emma Lane of the Brain Repair Group is awarded a prestigious Wellcome Trust 'Value in People' award which provides her a personal career development fellowship for 1 year, 1 Jan to 31 Dec 2009. Her work will focus on understanding the mechanisms and control of abnormal movements, known as 'dyskinesias', that can arise as a side effect of both drug and transplantation treatments for Parkinson's disease.

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February 2008 dalhousie logo

The Brain Repair Group at Cardiff University signs a Memorandum of Understanding for research collaboration with the Brain Repair Centre, Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia Canada. The BRC is the leading centre for cell transplantation in Parkinson’s disease in Canada. The UK Parkinson’s Disease Society is currently funding a 3 way research collaboration between the Cardiff BRG, the Dalhousie BRC and the Wallenberg Centre, Lund Sweden, to validate preparation protocols for primary human fetal tissues to allow the resumption of new clinical trials in Parkinson’s disease.

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February 2008

logosThe UK Stem Cell Foundation, in partnership with the Medical Research Council and the Welsh Assembly Government award a major grant of £686,592 to the Brain Repair Group for studies to establish the protocols for developing clinical grade cell lines for application in future clinical trails of cell transplantation in Huntington’s and Parkinson’s disease.

 

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2007PDS logo

All members of the Brain Repair group wish to extend their thanks to local branches of the Parkinson's Disease Society for their generous donations made during 2007 to support our research. In particular we wish to thank members of the Cheltenham & district branch, the Newport branch, the Cardiff branch, the South Powys branch, the Eastbourne branch, the Falkirk branch and the Chester & district branch. Two of the donations were made by family and friends in specific remembrance of Mrs Wilma Perrott and Mr John Stearne.

 

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May 2006

Dr Claire Kelly, a postdoctoral research fellow in the Brain Repair Group, received a commendation award and prize for her poster presented at the Special Parliamentary Reception at the House of Commons showcasing UK Bioscience and Medical Research.
Claire’s poster reviewed her work on the development of new immune protection methods to allow human fetal stem cells to survive transplantation in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases of the brain such as Huntington’s disease.

 

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May 2006

After a 15 days 13 hours and 45 minutes trek across the ice, The Parky Sons’ 2006 Polar Challenge Team - Jamie, Ben and Sumit - reach the magnetic north pole and raise more than £19,370 for Parkinson’s Disease research. This sponsorship is being donated to support our work in the Cardiff University Brain Repair Group.
The Polar Challenge is a 320 nautical mile race to the North Pole in the Arctic. It takes place between mid-April and mid-May each year.
Teams of three man-haul their own equipment from Resolute in Canada, through the start point, two check points and on to the finish line at the 1996 location of the Magnetic Pole. Having completed the race the teams then walk a further 25 miles to an air strip at the deserted mine at Isaachen and are air-lifted off the ice.
For more info see the Parky Sons’ polar challenge website.

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January 2006

HDA logoA group of Regional Care Advisors from the UK Huntington's Disease Association visited the laboratory. During the morning session, members of the Brain Repair Group and close collaborators from within Cardiff University gave presentations to the HDA updating them on the transition between laboratory-based experiments to human clinical trials. The afternoon session involved members of the laboratory demonstrating a number of work stations so that the guests could develop a real picture of the nature of the work carried out by the Brain Repair Group. The day was a success and all those involved from both sides enjoyed learning about the different aspects of HD right through from the laboratory to patient care in the community.



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September 2005PD logo

Alun Morgan, in spite of his Parkinson’s disease, climbs 2927’ high Cader Idris in Snowdonia, North Wales, with the support of friends in the Bridgend branch of the Parkinson’s Disease Society. Alun’s sponsored climb raises £2,750 for Parkinson’s disease research, which he donated to the Cardiff University Brain Repair Group.
Read more in Cardiff News.

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