Novel Approaches in Nervous System Regenerative Medicine
Degeneration within the nervous system, either caused by trauma (e.g. Spinal Cord Injury – SCI), disease (e.g. Parkinson’s Disease – PD) or infection (e.g. Malaria), is a significant health problem that is yet to be efficiently tackled, due to the limited available treatment options. Having this in mind, the ReNEU team has a strong translational nature, being focused on the generation of innovative therapies for nervous system regenerative medicine with a particular focus on trauma related injuries and degeneration caused by disease or infection. For this purpose, we will use the present and future acquired know-how on the pathophysiology of these nervous system-related conditions to establish targeted regenerative medicine strategies that go beyond the current therapeutic options. This overall aim is based on research activities within on four main thematic areas:
(1) Stem Cells and Biomaterials Biotechnology, with a focus on the combinatory use of stem cells and their derived biological products (e.g. secretome) with biomimetic hydrogels to enhance regeneration.
(2) Molecular Therapies, with a focus on the study of new molecules that can enhance neuroprotection and/or trigger the intrinsic capacity of nervous system cells to initiate reparative processes.
(3) Enabling Technologies, with a focus on the development of innovative medical devices that respect the temporal dynamics of the injury/disease allowing a more effective application of the strategies established in 1,2.
(4) Basic mechanisms of injury/degeneration, with a focus on better understanding key aspects of the pathophysiology of CNS trauma and degeneration, allowing a more targeted development of the strategies referred in 1,2.
To successfully target these 4 main thematic areas, the team of ReNEU relays on strong collaboration among all its PhD and non-PhD members, who disclose a strong complementarity within basic, translation and clinical research. The expertise of this team is further complemented with key national/ international collaborations within these four main thematic areas.
Within the last ten years, ReNEU has established itself as a highly competitive team in the field of central nervous system regenerative medicine, where it:
1) Introduced the use of new hydrogel based biomaterials for SCI regeneration, PGGH, providing strong evidences that they could modulate the pathophysiology of the injury, and with this promote the recovery of rodent models of SCI
2) Characterized the secretome of MSCs, disclosed how it modulates CNS biology, and associated mechanisms that impacted neuronal ang glial survival, differentiation and axonal growth
3) Pioneered the use of cell-free therapies based on stem cells secretome for CNS regenerative medicine
4) Identified novel molecular and pharmaco therapies (e.g. LEV) aimed at SCI repair
5) Established brain-organoid biological systems to test new compounds targeting cerebral malaria.
Selected Research Outputs
1- doi: 10.1016/j.expneurol.2022.113989
2- doi: 10.1038/s41536-021-00121-7.
3- doi: 10.1186/s12974-020-01945-8.
4- doi: 10.3389/fbioe.2019.00294
5- doi: 10.1002/stem.2785
6- doi: 10.1016/s1473-3099(19)30689-9
Patent WO/2021/198927, Compositions for Therapy or Treatment of Parkinson’s Disease, Methods and Uses Thereof
Patent WO/2021/198909, Compositions for Treatment of Spinal Cord Injury, Methods and Uses Thereof
Patent P117090, Malaria Sensor, Methods and Uses Thereof
Prize Melo e Castro for Spinal Cord Injury Research (2013, 2017, 2021)