Kings College University Laboratory Tour


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On 8th October, Wings for Life invited guests to a laboratory tour at Kings College University in London to say thank you for their ongoing support.

The evening started with drinks and a warm welcome from the Interim Head of Wings for Life UK, Emma Harris. Emma told the guests about what some of our supporters have been up to in their fundraising ventures and thanked everyone for their ongoing support. Emma then introduced Dr Elizabeth Bradbury and Dr Lawrence Moon, both researchers at Kings College who are funded by Wings for Life.

Dr Bradbury gave a talk on her work around repair and restoring function after a spinal cord injury and the role of neuregulin, an important growth factor that strengthens weak nerve fibres that have lost their insulating sheath and can’t efficiently transmit signals. She then explained how chondroitinase can be used to promote repair following a spinal cord injury and how a chondroitinase gene therapy treatment promotes the growth of injured nerve fibres and the sprouting of intact projections. These can then make connections with their target cells and restore limb function in experimental studies. In the future these treatments could be combined: a therapy which combines chondroitinase gene therapy (to stimulate tissue repair and nerve fibre growth) with neuregulin (to strengthen newly grown and weak nerve fibres) may have dramatic effects on improving function.

Dr Lawrence Moon detailed his research which he is undertaking with a Wings for Life grant, relating to axon regeneration and spinal cord injury. Identifying genes that allow nerve cells to regenerate and then forcing spinal cord nerve cells to express these genes after injury is one approach to enable new nerve fibre growth.

Dr Bradbury and Dr Moon thanked Wings for Life for their support and stressed the importance of funding basic science, “it is vital that we try to understand the processes of injury and tissue repair at a molecular level. Then we may be able to identify new therapeutic targets to promote tissue repair and restore function after spinal cord injury.”

Guests were then taken on a tour of the laboratories and had the chance to see the researchers at work and ask them questions. Dean Pitcher who is spinal cord injured commented that,

“It was a fantastic opportunity to see the level of work going into spinal cord injury research by a team obviously extremely dedicated, passionate and driven to achieve the end result”.

The evening was also a great chance for our supporters to meet one another and for the researchers to meet those they are working to help, and to update us all on their brilliant work.

Andrew Douglass, Managing Director of the live event agency Innovision said,

“A heart-felt thank you for inviting us to hear about and see some of the really exciting and inspirational research being funded by Wings for Life.

We found it truly fascinating and felt very proud to be associated with Wings for Life– you are doing amazing things and I’m so pleased you are starting to get some much deserved traction, profile and increased support in the UK.”

Find out more about the research projects at: www.wingsforlife.com/en/research/