Dr. Brown will guide a discussion of how the brain is naturally able to recover from damage through the process of neuroplasticity – the ability to rewire circuits, so as to compensate for lost function. Further delving in to his research, Dr. Brown will discuss how the brain wires in the embryo have helped in developing a strategy to treat spinal cord injury and stroke. Dr. Arthur Brown has a long-standing interest in neurodevelopment and regeneration and has trained at the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute in Toronto and the Salk Institute in San Diego. He has made the conscious decision to combine his interests in neurodevelopment with spinal cord regeneration therapies.
“The body’s response to spinal cord injury includes processes that promote regeneration and processes that not only inhibit regeneration but actually increase damage. The balance of these pro– and anti-regenerative forces determines the final clinical result. We have three major areas of research focused on identifying and testing strategies to tip the balance of power away from damaging processes and towards productive healing. Our research program includes anti-inflammatory strategies, cellular therapies and gene therapies designed to harness the good part of the body’s response to spinal cord injury while limiting the bad parts of this natural response to injury.
Regeneration in the nervous system is hindered by the expression of genes that block nerve growth. What regulates the activation of these inhibitory genes?
The absence of axonal regeneration after spinal cord injury has been attributed to nerve-repelling molecules in the damaged myelin and scar. These inhibitory molecules in the scar are produced by reactive astrocytes responding to the injury. However, astrocytes have also been shown to produce molecules that promote nerve growth. We have identified a master control gene that regulates the balance between the anti- and pro-regenerative genes activated after spinal cord injury. We are currently devising strategies to block this master control gene so as to maximize the expression of pro-regenerative genes and minimize the expression of anti-regenerative genes after spinal cord injury.”
McKillop WM1, York EM2, Rubinger L2, Liu T2, Ossowski NM3, Xu K2, Hryciw T2, BrownA4 Conditional Sox9 ablation improves locomotor recovery after spinal cord injury by increasing reactive sprouting. (2016) Exp Neurology Sep
McKillop, M., Dragan, M., Pniak, A., Schedl, A. and Brown, A. (2013). Conditional Sox9 ablation reduces chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan levels and improves motor function following spinal cord injury. Glia, 61(2):164-177.