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European Biopharmaceutical Review

Gene Therapy for Damaged Nerves

It has long been recognised that cells from the peripheral nervous system (PNS) can regenerate. In contrast, the adult brain and spinal cord (or central nervous system [CNS]) does not regenerate under normal conditions. This poses major problems to patients and their neurologists, as there are currently no treatments available to promote regeneration of injured brain or spinal cord tissue.The study of the fundamental cellular and molecular mechanisms that underlie successful regeneration in the PNS (and its failure in the CNS) form the overall objective of the neuroregeneration team at the Netherlands Institute for Brain Research (NIBR) in Amsterdam. Headed by Professor Joost Verhaagen, the group is investigating strategies to promote neuroregeneration and axonal outgrowth. These could then be employed in the treatment of spinal cord injuries and also neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's.One approach employed by the team is gene therapy, using viral vectors to deliver genes that are functional or up-regulated in regenerating PNS tissue to brain or spinal cord tissue that does not re-grow. Gene therapy is still a relatively young science - the first human gene therapy trials began in 1990 using an ex vivo method.


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By Dr Andreas Rьhlmann, European Bioinformatics and Microarray Specialist at Agilent Technologies

Dr Andreas Rьhlmann studied Physics and Chemistry at the University of Hamburg and Gцttingen and holds a degree in Organic Chemistry and a doctorate in Biochemistry from the University of Gцttingen/University of Braunschweig.
He worked as a Research Scientist at Harvard Medical School, Hannover Medical School and at the University of Tьbingen, mainly on gene regulation and signal transduction, as well as in clinical chemistry at the University of Magdeburg. He joined Agilent in June 2000 and serves as a European Bioinformatics and Microarray Specialist.

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Dr Andreas Rьhlmann
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