We are creating new models of the nervous system by combining stem cell research with bioengineering.
The models allow us to learn more about how our nervous system functions, and see how conditions like motor neurone disease (MND) damage it.
Using pluripotent stem cells to grow neurons in the lab and model diseases of the nervous system transformed the field of neuroscience. However, it’s still difficult to create a model that comes close to the complexity seen in our own neural circuits. Our group focuses on finding ways to model the nervous system more accurately using custom-made devices and advanced bioengineering.
We use a range of techniques to support and direct the neurons’ growth, including microfabricating new surfaces that resemble human tissue, with channels to ‘steer’ the growth of axons. Through using new imaging techniques to examine these models in real time, we are able to gain new insights into how these circuits change and develop over time, and identify new options for treatments.