Murray Blackmore, an assistant professor in the College of Health Sciences, received a $90,000 grant to continue research on therapeutic genes that he hopes will aid spinal cord regeneration.
Unite 2 Fight Paralysis, an organization run by and for people with spinal cord injuries and their families, presented Blackmore with the grant Monday in his lab in Schroeder Complex.
“Spinal cord injury is an incurable affliction that affects hundreds of thousands of people in the United States with paralysis and loss of sensation,” Blackmore said. “Our lab is dedicated to discovering new therapeutic approaches to treat spinal cord injury.”
Blackmore said the grant will allow him to buy a highly specialized microscope that allows images to be quickly analyzed by computer algorithms.
“As we search for new therapeutic genes, we first test their efficacy in nerve cells that we grow in culture dishes,” Blackmore said. “The key importance of this grant is that it dramatically accelerates the pace at which we can test the effect of new candidate treatments – it’s a game-changer.”
Blackmore said that before the introduction of the microscope, researchers had to analyze individual cells to make a conclusion about whether the treatment was effective. He said that with the microscope, he will be able to analyze hundreds of cells and analyze their shape in a matter of minutes.
“The microscope opens the bottleneck, so now instead of focusing on a handful of candidate genes, we can test hundreds or thousands,” Blackmore said.
Blackmore said his research comes from the heart, and although he respects science for the sake of knowledge, the purpose of his research is to find a cure for spinal injury patients.
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