Autism, a group of neurodegenerative genetic disorders that cause learning and behavioral challenges, affects approximately 2 million Americans. Other neurodegenerative diseases like stroke and cerebral palsy also affect a large amount of people in the United States. Stroke and cerebral palsy can cause serious brain damage, while autism causes many lifelong behavioral and learning challenges.
Two Duke University researchers recently received a substantial award of $15 million from the Marcus Foundation for an innovate research project to study the use of umbilical cord blood cells to treat these types of brain disorders. This grant has the possibility to be renewed for up to five years and could provide $41 million to researchers for this work. (Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons).
Previous research has proven that the cells from umbilical cord blood can in fact help repair areas of the brain that are damaged. One Duke University study found that cord blood could help treat inherited pediatric brain diseases by signaling normal, unaffected cells to repair areas of the brain. Umbilical cord blood cells also help reduce inflammation in the same way. A different study from Duke showed that using umbilical cord blood to treat the children the blood came from could be produced positive results in treating hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy.
With the $15 million award that Duke has received, researchers will run clinical trials on people with autism, cerebral palsy, and strokes to see whether umbilical cord blood can help repair affected areas of the brain. A common question that arises when using umbilical cord blood is whether people need to be treated with their own umbilical cord blood, or if using cord blood from someone else will also be effective. This is something else that the Duke research team will study. Being able to use any donated cord blood would provide more possibilities for treatment to a wider group of people.
Knowing that previous studies have had positive results regarding the use of cord blood, Duke researchers hope that more positive results in this study will help them to develop new cell-based therapies to help treat people with these neurological disorders.
(Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)
Millions of dollars are donated, awarded and granted to life science researchers at Duke University each year to help further life science research. In the 2014 fiscal year, the National Institutes of Health granted Duke researchers $343.5 million to support research projects. Some current research receiving funding include:
- Duke's Pratt School of Engineering won a $15 million grant renewal from the NSF and the US Environmental Protection Agency to continue learning more about where nanoparticles accumulate, how they interact with other chemicals and how they affect the environment.
- The NIH’s National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive, and Kidney Diseases awarded grants totaling nearly $10 million to the Duke University Medical Center to support basic and clinical research in renal and urogenital disorders. The grants will be distributed over a 5-year period.
- The Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University recently won a $5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to study centuries of soil erosion from human land use in the Calhoun Experimental Forest in upstate South Carolina.
Interested in meeting with life science researchers at Duke University in 2015?
Lab supply companies interested in marketing products and technologies to these Duke researchers are encouraged to attend the 16th annual BioResearch Product Faire™ Event at Duke on May 13, 2015. This event brings together nearly 200 life science researchers, lab managers, PI's, professors and post-doc students with sales reps from companies that have products that will benefit these researchers in their labs.
To learn more about participating in the upcoming May event, visit the link below.
Durham area researchers are invited to visit the link below to learn more about attending and to pre-register for the May event.
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