16. September 2014
University of Sydney, Camperdown Australia

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The Group:

The Regenerative Neuroscience Group (RNG) is a team of problem solvers.  Led by Associate Professor Michael Valenzuela and based at the Brain and Mind Research Institute, we come from a wide diversity of professional backgrounds, ranging from the business world to biomedical engineering, biology, neuroscience, medicine and psychology.  The RNG Stem Cell Team consists of 5 scientists working on new therapeutic ideas that may ultimately lead to a cure for dementia.

Research Projects:

Dementia is one of the world’s fastest growing and most heart-breaking diseases.  Today, over 110 million people suffer from dementia.  It attacks our memories and personal connections, strips individuals of their dignity, and ultimately, takes their life.  By 2020 dementia is expected to be the single most expensive disorder, and by 2050 our single greatest killer.

RNG are currently working on 16 research projects aimed at increasing public awareness about modifiable dementia risk factors, developing better dementia prevention strategies, or discovery of new therapeutic approaches. RNG has four main research themes - cognitive lifestyle, brain imaging, stem cells and the canine brain – yet many of our projects sit in the interesting cross-over areas in-between.  RNG projects are in collaboration with leading researchers from around the world.

The fundamental cause of dementia is loss of neurons, so the RNG Stem Cell team are trying to replace lost brain cells through patient specific cell therapy.  Our cell type of interest is skin derived neural precursor cells.  We have already succeeded in engrafting these cells into the rat hippocampus, the brain’s memory centre, and found this reverses their spatial memory loss in old age.  Using a combination of gene, protein and functional analysis, our current goal is to translate our research to human skin samples, that hopefully in time will be used to treat human dementia.

Shaking Application:

Mammalian cells and tissue (canine, human and rodent)