Marquette professor awarded $1.6 million NIH grant for spinal cord injury research

Marquette University professor Murray Blackmore was awarded a $1.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to continue his research of spinal cord injury and paralysis.

Dr. Murray Blackmore, associate professor of biomedical sciences in the College of Health Sciences at Marquette University. courtesy Biz News

Dr. Murray Blackmore, associate professor of biomedical sciences in the College of Health Sciences at Marquette University.

It’s the second $1.6 million NIH grant that Blackmore, an associate professor of biomedical sciences in the College of Health Sciences, has received in five years.

Blackmore’s primary research focuses on the use of gene therapy to treat brain cells damaged in spinal cord injuries, leading to nerve growth and regeneration at the injury site. The therapy can reverse paralysis, leading to partial regained movement and motor control.

With the findings funded from Blackmore’s first NIH grant, his lab will continue to the next phase of the project, which includes the use of stem cells and a recently developed nerve labeling technique to better visualize nerve growth and regeneration.

“To restore motor control after trauma in the brain and spinal cord, cut nerve fibers must regrow, and critically, must reconnect with the appropriate target cells, forming a ‘bridge’ across the injury,” Blackmore said. “My team and I are testing additional activity-based therapies to amplify and enhance the connections of the regrown nerves in order to make that nerve ‘bridge’ more structurally sound, with the goal of increasing motor control and function.”

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