Professor Kevin Shakesheff, University of Nottingham /  Dr Sharona Even-Ram, Hadassah - Hebrew University Medical Centre 

Parkinson's disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disease in the world, caused by progressive degeneration of nerve cells. Conventional treatments only give short term relief and cause adverse side-effects. 

Regenerative cell therapy, where human embryonic stem cells are induced to develop into nerve cells, has been implemented in recent years; yet two major hurdles still impede the clinical use of such cells: formation of tumours at the site of transplantation and poor survival of the grafted cells.

In this project new selection methods are being developed to eliminate cells that could become cancerous and to enable the safe preparations of nerve cells. 

In addition, the scientists are establishing a new method for the delivery of mature neurons in a form that is more likely to maintain functionality and restore regeneration of the damaged brain area. 

This combined approach is expected to pave the way toward clinical replacement cell therapy for neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s.  

About the Researchers

Professor Kevin Shakesheff

School of Pharmacy, University of Nottingham

Director of the Centre for Stem Cells, Tissue Engineering and Modelling and

Head of the School of Pharmacy

Since his return to the UK from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1997, Professor Kevin Shakesheff’s inventions and scientific breakthroughs have resulted in 200 peer-reviewed full papers, over 5000 citations, the establishment of 2 successful companies within Nottingham, 13 patent application families and numerous international awards. In addition, he has taken a leading role in shaping interdisciplinary research in the UK through continued membership of senior policy and grant awarding committees. Most recently, he has established a 320 researcher interdisciplinary institution called the “Centre for Biomolecular Sciences”. In August 2009 he became Head of the School of Pharmacy, the leading research school in the field in the Research Assessment Exercise 2008.  

Dr Sharona Even - Ram

Department of Gene Therapy, Hadassah Hebrew University Hospital.

Dr Even-Ram is Head of ECM and cytoskeleton group at the Embryonic Stem Cell Research Centre. She is also a lecturer at the Hebrew University School of Medicine. She is the editor of Extracellular Matrix Protocols: /Methods in Molecular Biology (Humana/ Springer).