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October 4, 2011
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Scientists from The Ohio State University College of Medicine are recipients of a three-year, $1 million award from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke for spinal cord injury (SCI) research.
Phillip Popovich, professor of neuroscience and director of the Center for Brain and Spinal Cord Repair, and colleagues are focused on understanding neuro-inflammatory mechanisms that control repair of damaged cells and pathways at the injury site of the traumatized spinal cord.
Ultimately, the researchers would like to engage and manipulate receptors on immune cells, specifically the Triggering Receptor Expressed on Myeloid cells (TREM2), after SCI. Precise activation of TREM2 should help cells interact with the nervous system in a in a way that promotes repair, according to the researchers.
“This award will allow us to begin to understand the signaling mechanisms that regulate function of white blood cells, specifically macrophages that are recruited and activated after spinal cord injury,” says Popovich, also the Ray W. Poppleton Research Designated Chair in Ohio State’s College of Medicine.
Macrophages express numerous receptors that, when activated by molecules at the injury site, transmit “stop” or “go” signals that either silence or activate macrophage repair functions. According to Popovich, this newly-funded research project will reveal whether activating or over-expressing TREM2 receptors on macrophages will affect how these cells influence repair in the injured spinal cord.