Stem cells migrate, respond appropriately to damage and have potential to repair nervous system disease. The Reprogen cell technology group is investigating neural, bone marrow stromal and embryonic stem cells and their capacity for repairing myelin damage. Demyelinating disease, such as Multiple Sclerosis and Krabbe disease, may be amenable to cell replacement therapy.
The group has genetically engineered cells to produce transforming growth factor beta to modulate inflammatory myelin damage. The movement and behaviour of cells in the mature brain is tracked with enhanced green fluorescent protein gene expression. Neural stem cells modified to express a missing enzyme, galactocerebrosidase, are more resistant to toxic damage in Krabbe disease