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Stem Cells and Repairing the Brain

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Remyelination, the process by which new myelin sheaths are restored to demyelinated axons, represents one of the most compelling examples of adult stem cells contributing to regeneration of the injured central nervous system (CNS). This process can occur with remarkable efficiency in both clinical disease, such as multiple sclerosis, and in experimental models, revealing an impressive ability of the adult CNS to repair itself. However, the inconsistency of remyelination in multiple sclerosis, and the loss of axonal integrity that results from its failure, makes enhancement of remyelination an important therapeutic objective. Identifying potential targets will depend on a detailed understanding of the cellular and molecular mechanisms of remyelination. This talk will review 1) the nature of the cell or cells that respond to demyelination and generate new oligodendrocytes, identifying current areas of uncertainty and addressing the role of adult CNS stem and progenitor cells, 2) intrinsic factors regulating precursor differentiation and 3) how an environment favourable to remyelination is generated, and will introduce the concept of a matrix of signalling events critical for the successful completion of remyelination.

Bio: Robin Franklin obtained his undergraduate degrees in Physiology and Veterinary Medicine and his PhD in Neuroscience. He has spent his entire career at the University of Cambridge, where he is currently Professor of Neuroscience. He has worked predominantly on the biology of myelin repair (remyelination) and investigating strategies by which this important regenerative process may be enhanced therapeutically, and has published over 185 papers and reviews on this topic.

This talk is part of the Pembroke Papers, Pembroke College series.

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