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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/X014126/1
Title: Development of magnetic force biotechnology to facilitate neural regeneration
Principal Investigator: Telling, Professor ND
Other Investigators:
Caruana, Dr DA Gates, Dr M Elfick, Professor AP
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Sorbonne University (Paris IV & UPMC) The Cleveland Clinic Foundation
Department: Inst for Science and Tech in Medicine
Organisation: Keele University
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 January 2023 Ends: 31 December 2025 Value (£): 805,899
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Medical Imaging Tissue engineering
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
27 Sep 2022 Healthcare Technologies Investigator Led Panel Sept 2022 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
The central nervous system (CNS) consists of both the brain and spinal cord and is responsible for co-ordinating activity across our entire body. Such co-ordination requires the precise connections of billions of neurons (nerve cells), sometimes across distances of up to 0.5 metres long. These connections are made using long, thin fibres known as axons, which project from the cell body and allow the transport of electrical impulses between the neurons (somewhat like the electrical circuits that connect components in a computer).

Damage to the neural circuitry in the CNS can be caused by acute trauma (for example spinal cord injury) or following the development of neurological disorders such as Parkinson's disease. Within the CNS, it is the spinal cord that contains the neuronal circuits that govern complex movements such as walking. Unfortunately, the ability of axons in the CNS to naturally regenerate is extremely limited, and so the functional deficits that result from damage to the brain or spinal cord, can persist indefinitely. Millions of people worldwide are currently living with the disabling effects of such damage, and so new approaches to find potential treatments that could restore these neural connections are desperately needed.

This project builds on a previously successful collaboration to use physical sciences and bioengineering approaches to manipulate neurons using remote magnetic forces. Here we will investigate whether magnetic force methods could be used to remotely guide axon re-growth to reconnect neural circuits and restore function. To do this we will design and develop new controllable magnetic force devices. We will use these systems to target specialist microscopic magnetic nanoparticles loaded into intracellular compartments in the axons known as endosomes. In addition, we will explore the use of advanced genetic modification techniques to prepare neuronal cells that can biosynthesize magnetic nanoparticles internally. To test these methodologies, we will investigate the effects of magnetic forces on a novel biological model of spinal cord injury, that incorporates living sections of tissue cultured from the rat cortex and spinal cord.

The project will bring together a wide-reaching, cross-disciplinary team with expertise in physics and materials science, neuroscience, electrophysiology, synthetic biology, and neurosurgery. If successful, the project will provide the crucial foundation technology required to translate the methods towards pre-clinical and ultimately clinical treatments of spinal cord injury. It will also have significant impact on research in other areas of neuroscience and neurological disorders which seek to re-establish circuits in the CNS, such as Parkinson's disease.

Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Organisation Website: http://www.keele.ac.uk