- Brain tumours
- Chronic kidney disease
- Gum disease/Edentulousness
- Alzheimer's Disease
- Barrett's Oesophagus
- Bipolar Disorder
- Blood Brain Barrier
- Lung Gene Therapy
- Medical Devices
- Neuromuscular Physiology
- Parkinson's Disease
- Toxicology Research
- Abdominal pain studies
- Brain cell imaging
- Magnetoencephalography (MEG)
2012 – 2013 Research Technician
Development of a Microfluidic Chamber for the In Vitro Study of Skeletal Muscle Innervation
Dr Selim Cellek
Animal models are widely used in research into motor neuron diseases, nerve injury and repair. Models used in this field involve artificial severing or crushing of the nerve which may cause pain and distress to animals and may lead to paralysis, self-mutilation and death. Moreover the research in this field has been unsatisfactory since the information gathered from animals does not always apply to human biology.
Therefore there is a need to develop human cell models which can replace the painful animal models and would give more meaningful information for development of new treatments which are urgently needed.
The nerves that control our muscles can be damaged by several diseases or trauma such as spinal cord injury. An example is the sad story of Christopher Reeve, the famous actor who played Superman, and suffered spinal cord injury after a horse-riding accident which resulted in paralysis below neck (quadriplegia) and died in 2004 at age of 52. In the UK, over 1000 people suffer from a similar fate every year. Other conditions such as motor neuron diseases affecting over 5000 people in the UK every year also cause damage to the nerves.
Previous attempts to develop human cell models have certain limitations one of which is their inability to study the growth of single nerve and its one-to-one interaction with the muscle. Our proposal is to build a chamber at micro scale which will allows us to grow a single human nerve. Similar chambers have successfully been used recently to study the other functions of the nerve; but those chambers have not been used to study nerve-muscle interaction.
Successful completion of the project will deliver not only a new method to study this interaction which may be able to lead to development of novel therapies for those patients who are desperately waiting; but also would replace the existing the painful animal models. It will also enable the team to apply for further research funding which will eventually lead to a better understanding of human motor neuron-skeletal muscle interaction will have a better translation to the clinical situation.
It is envisaged that such a model will also accelerate the discovery of novel medicines for diseases such as motor neuron diseases and spinal cord injury. The team believes that such a model can replace several animal models currently being used for research into such diseases.