Research in the Bradbury Lab focuses on understanding processes of injury and repair and developing therapies to restore function following central nervous system trauma, with a particular interest in glial scarring, extracellular matrix modification and neuroplasticity after spinal cord injury.

A spinal cord injury can result in a complete loss of sensation and motor function below the level of the injury, leading to permanent disability, and there are currently no adequate treatments. Research in the Bradbury Lab focuses on strategies to promote nerve regeneration and tissue repair, with the ultimate aim of restoring function to this severely debilitating condition. Improvements in mobility as well as bladder and bowel function would mean greater independence and quality of life for spinal injured patients (even small improvements could have a big impact). Our main approach has been to target inhibitory factors (glial scar matrix molecules) which prevent nerve regeneration and this work has led to the discovery that an enzyme called chondroitinase can promote recovery of sensory and motor functions following spinal cord injury in clinically relevant models which mimic the blunt trauma or contusion-type injuries that are the most common form of spinal cord injury in humans. This work has had a major impact in the field of spinal injury research, with chondroitinase therapy now a leading candidate for clinical trials.

Strategies to promote repair following spinal cord injury

The common overriding goal of research in the Bradbury Lab is to promote spinal cord repair, using a number of different approaches which fall under two major themes:

Translational research aimed at developing promising therapies to treat spinal cord injury:

  • Chondroitinase gene therapy
  • Novel rehabilitation methods to restore hand function following cervical spinal cord injury
  • Nanomedicine/carbon nanotubes
  • Therapeutic hypothermia

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Mechanistic research aimed at understanding injury and repair processes at the cellular and molecular level:

  • Proteomics, novel targets and biomarkers
  • Real-time imaging of synaptogenesis and connectivity
  • Spontaneous repair, remyelination and neuregulin signalling

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