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Verhaagen Group

Wings for Life grant for repairing spinal circuits

The Wings for Life Spinal Cord Research Foundation has awarded twin grants to the teams of Joost Verhaagen and Elizabeth Bradbury (King’s College, London). These grants will provide support to the Verhaagen and Bradbury laboratories to develop a gene therapy strategy for chondriotinase.

Repair of spinal circuits by gene therapy

Chondriotinase is a promising enzyme therapy that enables new growth and rewiring of injured spinal cord neurons. To translate this therapy into a safe and effective treatment for humans a number of hurdles have to be overcome. With a gene therapy approach based on adeno-associated viral (AAV) vectors the chondroitinase gene can be delivered and stably expressed in the injured spinal cord.

In this project we will use a gene switch which allow precise control of the expression of chondroitinase by administering an antibiotic called doxycycline which is commonly used in the clinic. The combined results obtained in the Bradbury and Verhaagen laboratories are essential to facilitate translation of a chondroitinase gene therapy to the clinic.

The inducible AAV vectors generated in the context of this project will also be an asset for the broader spinal cord injury-community because they will be available for studies on other genes with potential therapeutic benefit in brain and spinal cord injury.

Wings for Life

Wings for Life is a not-for-profit spinal cord research foundation. Their mission is to find a cure for spinal cord injury. Wings for Life funds world-class scientific research and clinical trials around the globe aimed at healing the injured spinal cord.

 

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Verhaagen Group

This laboratory performs basic and translational research with the aim to advance the field of restorative neuroscience and neurology. We focus on the cellular and molecular mechanisms that underlie degeneration, regeneration and plasticity of the central and peripheral nervous system. A significant portion of research is dedicated to the identification of novel genes and molecular pathways that affect the capacity of the nervous system to regenerate. Genomics, bioinformatics and high-throughput functional screening are key components of our research strategy and gene therapy based on advanced viral vector technology is applied to validate the therapeutic efficacy of molecular targets in clinically relevant animal models of neurodegeneration and repair. The ultimate goal of the Laboratory for Neuroregeneration is to develop novel therapeutic strategies to promote regeneration and plasticity of injured axons.

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