Neuroscience at Lund University encompasses a broad range of disciplines and expertise. Research groups are gathered within five main research clusters: MultiPark, Stem Cell Center and Epilepsy Center.
MultiPark is a strategic research area funded by the Swedish Government. Building on the strong tradition of cutting-edge research on Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases at Lund University, the vision is to create new and innovative strategies for improved and novel treatments, disease modifications and eventually cures for neurodegenerative diseases. MultiPark is striving to understand the mechanisms of neurodegenerative diseases, and to create a dynamic structure for the advancement of research, innovation and education in the field. Ultimately, our research will improve functioning, health and quality of life of people living and ageing with these diseases.
Stem Cell Center - Neuroscience Program
Lund center for Stem Cell Biology and Cell Therapy is one of six Swedish strategic centers of excellence in life sciences, supported by the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research. The main objective of the Stem Cell Center´s Neuroscience Program is to study the properties of neural stem cells (NSCs) and explore the possibilities to use these cells for treatment of neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and stroke.
NSCs are derived from the embryonic stem (ES) cells or fetal and adult nervous system, and can generate different type of neural cells. The possibility to isolate and propagate NSCs and their potential applications in cell therapy have attracted a lot of research interest in recent years. The clinical team from Lund headed by Prof. Olle Lindval in collaboration with Prof. Anders Björklund, were the first to show in patients the proof of principle that cell transplantation therapy is feasible approach to treat the patients with Parkinson’s disease.
The work with stem cell-based therapy in stroke is in initial phase and recently Dr. Zaal Kokaia started a consortium within EU to develop the preclinical protocol for cell therapy in stroke. Prof. Lindvall and Dr. Kokaia were the first in the world to show that the brain produces new neurons in response to stroke which opened new possibilities for cell therapy by developing the way to modulate and direct brains this self-repair mechanisms.
Epilepsy Center was created by an initiative of Prof. Merab Kokaia in the beginning of year 2013. The ultimate vision and goal of the Center is to create a common platform for basic and clinical epileptologists and thereby bring preclinical findings to clinical applications, and develop novel treatment strategies for epilepsy. Neurologists, neurosurgeons, neurophysiologists, brain imaging specialists, neuropathologists and basic researchers are all contributing to the process of achieving the common goal.
Epilepsies are a family of multifactorial chronic neurological disorders characterized by recurrent seizures, affecting at least 60 million people worldwide. Available pharmacological treatments have side effects and are ineffective in 30-40 % of patients. Societal costs associated with epilepsy are substantial and only in Europe are estimated as 20 billion € per year.
Main emphasis of Epilepsy Center is to explore mechanisms underlying epileptogenesis, and develop gene- and cell-therapy based treatment strategies for epilepsy. For gene therapy, a combinatorial approach with multiple target genes, as well as more complex optogenetic approaches are studied, while for cell-therapy human induced pluripotent stem cells and human induced neuronal cells are investigated. Prof. Kokaia and his group was the first to demonstrate that optogenetics can suppress epileptic activity in the hippocampus.
Peripheral Nerve Injury and Neuropathy
Research is performed to understand mechanisms involved in regeneration and repair after peripheral nerve injury in both experimental and clinical studies, including rehabilitation, in health and disease. Furthermore, occurrence and development of particularly diabetic neuropathy and understanding of involved mechanisms are focused in mainly clinical studies which include use of synchrotron technique and masspectrometry to analyze unique nerve biopsies. Together with a large number of research groups as well as clinical departments a center for peripheral nerves has been created in order to study and discuss past, present, and new concepts affecting all aspects of peripheral nerves.