- Professor of Cellular Neuroscience (Immunology)
Room 29 Level B3
Glial Cell Biology 3Is MVLS
120 University Place
Glasgow G12 8TA
Professor Sue Barnett leads the Glial Cell Biology Group within the Institute of Infection Immunity and Inflammation. The group focuses on the use of glial cells for central nervous system (CNS) repair. Glial cells are the major cells in the peripheral and central nervous system (PNS and CNS respectively) providing functional, structural and metabolic support for neurons. In the CNS the oligodendrocyte makes the myelin sheath that wraps around axons that is necessary for saltatory conduction. Damage to oligodendrocytes and the myelin sheath are common after injury (spinal cord injury) and in many neurological conditions (eg Multiple Sclerosis). The group are taking two approaches to promote CNS repair. The first involves a cell replacement strategy using specialised glial cells from the olfactory system known as olfactory ensheathing cells (OECs) as well as a recently identified stem cell from the olfactory mucosa, termed lamina propria-MSCs. Both cells have a positive effect on myelination. The second involves manipulations of oligodendrocytes to facilitate process extension, axon ensheathment and myelination.
The group have also made detailed comparison of OECs and Schwann cells. They have shown that OECs, although sharing many properties in common with Schwann cells, have discrete biological differences which allow them to mingle with astrocytes and promote CNS repair. Our lab continues to investigate how these cells differ. Using human olfactory biopsy tissue we have identified a novel mesenchymal stem cells which appears to have advantages over classical MSCs in promoting myelination. Recently focus has turned to the astrocyte where our research has shown their phenotype can influence myelination in particular by the secretion of a range of chemokines. Ongoing microarray analyses of these various astrocyte phenotypes are identifying novel candidates for promoting and inhibiting myelination.
We have developed many in vitro models of CNS injury and demyelination and continue to strive to identify novel approaches for the promotion of CNS repair.