Elena Kozlova – Regenerative neurobiology

Microscope image of a neural crest stem cell neurosphereThe long-term objectives of our research are to promote functional recovery following injury to the central nervous system, as well as to exploit the beneficial potential of stem cells for tissue repair.

Injured peripheral nerve fibers are able to regenerate and thereby restore lost nervous system functions. However, nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord are unable to regenerate and functional loss after injuries to these parts of the nervous system is often permanent. Furthermore, injury or disease of the nervous system can result in longstanding, and even chronic, pain conditions called neuropathic pain.

Our objective is to restore functions which are lost following spinal cord injury by

  • promoting regeneration of injured fibers in the spinal cord.
  • promoting functionally useful reorganization of neural connections (plasticity).
  • repairing lost connections by transplantation of stem cells, which are guided to become desired type of neurons.

The effect of neural stem cells on insulin producing cells

In recent studies we have also shown that growth, survival and function of insulin producing cells in the pancreas are markedly promoted if they are cultured or transplanted together with stem cells from the nervous system. These observations can offer novel opportunities to treat patients with type 1 diabetes who have lost large amounts of their insulin producing cells.

In this project our objectives are

  • to identify the mechanisms underlying these stimulating effects.
  • to contribute to their exploration for the treatment of patients with diabetes type 1.

Microscope image of a neural crest stem cell neurosphere
Neural crest stem cell neurosphere with differentiated neurons (red) and
glial cells (green). Cell nuclei labelled blue. Photo: Dr. Elena N. Kozlova

Last modified: 2022-09-01