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Brain with Neurones

Changing the future of spinal cord injury

George Gibbons

After completing his MSc in Biomedicine at Lancaster University, George went on to study Clinical Neuroscience at the University of Cambridge. During his MPhil course, George worked with Dr Andras Lakatos studying different stem cell derived spinal neurons and astrocytes. In 2019, George started his Clinical Neuroscience PhD in Dr Andras Lakatos' lab, funded by Spinal Research. His research focuses on utilising human systems to model cortico-spinal circuity.

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George Gibbons, PhD Student

Why neuroscience research in spinal cord injury is important to George

"Therapeutic interventions for Spinal Cord Injury are currently lacking. This can leave patients with poor motor outcomes despite high costs and investments in rehabilitation programs. To better develop strategies to improve treatments for SCI, further understanding is required into the molecular and cellular mechanisms at play. Bridging previous work from rodent models, with novel stem cell derived human models, should aid in discovery of new therapeutic targets and mechanisms with the aim of further developing greater treatment options for patients."

Working with Organoids

Organoids are self-organized three-dimensional tissue cultures that are derived from stem cells. Their advantage over cells in a two-dimensional space, such as in a petri dish, is that the three-dimensional structure reflects the environment of an animal model more accurately, and therefore the effect of treatments translates to animal or clinical studies more faithfully.

On the 28th April - 1st May 2022, George presented his work on the topic of organoids at the American Society for Neural Therapy & Repair (ASNTR) meeting in Clearwater Beach, Florida.

I presented my current PhD work entitled, “Modelling of the human cortical-spinal neuraxis using organoids”, where I discussed the development and applications of my current organoid co-culture system which allows researchers to explore axon dynamics in a human context. I feel the talk was well received, and I had several positive conversations on different areas which can be explored with regards to the research.

I was able to attend all the presentation sessions and learned of some new techniques which may be useful to my research. The poster session also allowed me to see where the field was heading and where my passion, organoid and stem cell modelling, could fit in. Finally, Lana and Michael were exceedingly welcoming hosts, and through them I met several members of the Spinal community and had some very engaging discussions.

Overall, I had a thoroughly enjoyable and productive experience and would love to thank Spinal Research for their funding. It was truly a wonderful experience.