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A cure for Alzheimer’s? Penn State launches crowdfunding site to boost brain-repair research

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A Penn State team has launched a crowdfunding campaign to support its promising research on brain repair.

“Our revolutionary technology holds promise as a potential treatment for many brain injuries and disorders,” explains Gong Chen, a biology professor and the Verne M. Willaman Chair in Life Sciences, who heads the research. “We recently discovered a way to transform one type of a patient’s own brain cells — called glial cells — into healthy, functioning nerve cells that can replace those damaged by Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, brain trauma, spinal-cord trauma or stroke. For the first time in history, our revolutionary technology now can reverse glial scars back into functional neural tissue inside the brain.”

According to an article written by Penn State spokeswoman Barbara Kennedy and originally published in the Centre Daily Times, Chen’s team has published research describing its success: “Even in very old mice with Alzheimer’s disease, [they were] able to regenerate many functional neurons from the internal glial cells of these mice and to replenish the lost neurons in the brains of the mice. This research raises the hope that neural-replacement therapy might someday help human patients.”

The new month-long crowdfunding campaign has a $50,000 goal and ends at the end of April. The money will allow the lab to purchase critical equipment and materials, and to proceed more quickly to clinical trials.

“It will take at least an estimated $1 million per year to hire highly skilled people and to carry out vital tests on several specific disorders,” says Chen. “With [funding] we can move our lab research to human clinical trials much faster, perhaps shortening the delivery of drug therapy to patients from 10 years to five years.”

Source: Barbara Kennedy, Penn State University
Writer: Elise Vider

Region: South Central

Higher Ed, Life Sciences, News, Research, State College


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