Mikael A. Svensson´s research group

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Damage repair in CNS using micro-surgery and stem cell technology

Our project aims developing new techniques to treat injuries or diseases of the CNS. There are already several examples of reconstructive neurosurgery intended to recover neurological function. Cervical spinal cord injury with root avulsion can, for example, to some extent be repaired by means of peripheral nerve graft implanted in the spinal cord. Difficult to treat tremor in Parkinson's disease is another example that can be successfully treated with deep brain electrodes. Another example is vascular surgery with bypass or stent technology that aims to improve blood flow to the brain and thereby reduce the risk of stroke.

Our group has in an experimental environment developed the idea of repairing damaged spinal cord by bridging the injured area with peripheral nerve graft. We have shown that axons can grow over the injured area through the graft. With the help of neurophysiology, we have shown that the regeneration establishes contact between the cortex and muscle in the lower extremities after three months. These results are now the basis for a clinical trial which will be initiated in 2012 in cooperation with, among other, The Miami Project. The above examples of microsurgical techniques with peripheral nerve graft may thus to some extent be used to restore neurological function. As a rule, however, cell death, especially dead neurons and oligodendroglia are major obstacles to the return of neurological deficits. Stem cell research in the neuroscience field has changed our view of the possibility of replacing dead cells in the nervous system.

Our group has spent many years studying human stem/ progenitor cells from adult patients' brains and found that these cells can be grown, multiplied and differentiated into mature neurons in cell cultures. We have also developed experimental stem cell models in which we have shown, for example, results from a genetically modified strain of rats, in which the existing stem cells in the CNS express the green fluorescent protein GFP. We then rescheduled these so-called "green stem cells for the hypoglossal nerve in the brain stem in genetically related sibling rats that did not express GFP. These cells have been shown to have good survival in this model. They also differentiate to a great extent to new neurons that integrate the host animal's nervous system with the formation of new synapses and axonal outgrowth. These transplantation techniques are currently being further developed with new treatment options for patients affected by for example spinal cord injury. In summary, our group focuses on research in the repair of the damaged nervous system with micro-surgical techniques in combination with cell therapy.

Research projects

Experimental Research

  • Transplantation of stem/progenitor cells to the CNS after injury
  • The immune system´s impact on tribal/progenitor cells.
  • Characterization of adult human neural stem/progenitor cells
  • Characterization of stem/progenitor cells from the filum terminale
  • Repair of damaged spinal cord with peripheral nervgraft and FGF

Clinical Research

The back section

  • Repair of damaged spinal cord with peripheral nervgraft and FGF

The Functional Section

  • Neuropathic pain - Physiology
  • Neural modulation for neuropathic pain
  • NGF´s role in Alzheimer´s disease

The Trauma Section

  • Gene expression and traumatic brain injury (TBI)
  • Epigenitics and TBI

Vascular Section

  • Long-term follow-up and quality of life parameters after subarachnoid hemorrhage
  • Long-term follow-up after treatment of aneurysms of the brain
  • Genetic analysis and monitoring of patients with AVM in the brain

Brain Tumors

  • Follow-up of malignant brain tumors
  • Follow-up of benign brain tumors
  • Monitoring of tumors treated with gamma knife

Pediatric Neurosurgery

  • Characterization of stem/progenitor cells from the filum terminale

Selected publications

[pubmed:19738322 ]

TLR activation induces TNF-alpha production from adult neural stem/progenitor cells.
Covacu R, Arvidsson L, Andersson A, Khademi M, Erlandsson-Harris H, Harris R, et al
J. Immunol. 2009 Jun;182(11):6889-95

Nitric oxide exposure diverts neural stem cell fate from neurogenesis towards astrogliogenesis.
Covacu R, Danilov A, Rasmussen B, Hallén K, Moe M, Lobell A, et al
Stem Cells 2006 Dec;24(12):2792-800

Restoration of hand function and so called "breathing arm" after intraspinal repair of C5-T1 brachial plexus avulsion injury. Case report.
Carlstedt T, Anand P, Htut M, Misra P, Svensson M
Neurosurg Focus 2004 May;16(5):E7

Complement activation in the human brain after traumatic head injury.
Bellander B, Singhrao S, Ohlsson M, Mattsson P, Svensson M
J. Neurotrauma 2001 Dec;18(12):1295-311

Group members

Per AlmqvistAssociated
Peter AlpkvistGraduate Student
Jiri BartekAssociated
Bo-Michael BellanderAdjunct senior lecturer
Gustav BurströmGraduate Student
Adrian TeranderAssociated
Arvid FrostellGraduate Student
Petter FöranderAssociated
Ramil HakimPhD student
Olivia KiwanukaGraduate Student
Caroline LindbladPhD student
Paula MannströmSenior lab manager
Helena MartinelleAssociated
Per MattssonAssociated
Cristina Morganti-KossmannAssociated
Jonathan NordblomAssociated
Marcus OhlssonAssociated
Oscar PerssonAssociated
Jenny Pettersson SegerlindAssociated
Ulrika SandvikAssociated
Gaston SchechtmannAssociated
Mikael SvenssonResearch team leader, Professor/senior physician
Eric ThelinPostdoc
Ann-Christin Von VogelsangAssociated
Theresa WangeridGraduate Student