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2007 Grants - Fernandes
2007 Grant — Fernandes
Karl Fernandes, Ph.D.
Université de Montréal
Montréal, Québec, Canada
New Investigator Research Grant—$100,000 over two years
Stimulation of Neural Precursors in Transgenic Mouse Models of Alzheimer's
Stem cells within the adult mammalian brain, including human, are highly sensitive to changes affecting the central nervous system. For example, when we are in an enriched and stimulating environment, neural precursors produce new neurons in regions of the brain believed to be involved in learning and memory. Alternatively, when trauma such as stroke or spinal cord injury occur to the nervous system, neural precursors contribute cells to the glial scar, which limits the spread of tissue damage.
In light of such important roles in nervous system maintenance and responses to tissue injury, stem cells may represent a powerful therapeutic target in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases. We currently lack a comprehensive picture of what happens to neural stem cells in brains undergoing the degenerative changes associated with Alzheimer's disease.
In this research proposal, we will analyze transgenic mouse models of Alzheimer's Disease to investigate this important issue, asking (i) how does Alzheimer's affect the number, distribution, and sub-types of neural stem cells in the brain, (ii) can we activate the stem cells present within Alzheimer's brains, and (iii) are adult stem cells, isolated from the skin for example, recruited to sites of degeneration when transplanted into the brain? Answering these questions will provide important insights into the therapeutic possibilities of stem cells in Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative diseases.