A stem cell therapy for Hirschsprung Disease

Research Opportunity
PhD students, Honours students, Master of Biomedical Science
Number of Honour Places Available
1
Number of Master Places Available
1
Primary Supervisor Email Number Webpage
Dr Lincon Stamp lstamp@unimelb.edu.au
Co-supervisor Email Number Webpage
Prof John Furness

Summary The healthy gut communicates with the brain and lives in harmony with the many bacteria it contains. Disorders of gut health lead to diabetes and metabolic disease, inadequate nutrition, pain, nausea, poor digestion, liver disease, and digestive diseases. The digestive Physiology and Nutrition Laboratory is working to develop new approaches to treating bowel diseases through neuromodulation, an exciting new approach in which nerves are stimulated to treat disordered function, through drug development and by unravelling the basic mechanisms essential for digestive health. We are also working to understand the reasons why gastrointestinal functions become disordered when there are pathologies of the central nervous system, such as in Parkinson’s Disease.

Project Details

Hirschsprung disease (HSCR) is a congenital enteric neuropathy characterised by the lack of enteric neurons in the distal bowel, which results in a loss of propulsive motility and life-threatening constipation. Without surgical removal of the defective bowel, the infant dies. Current surgical intervention, while life-saving, frequently results in chronic, long-term complications, including constipation, faecal soiling, and associated psychosocial problems Consequently, alternative treatments are needed. 

 

Our studies have shown that following transplantation into the bowel, endogenous enteric neural progenitors give rise to new neurons that are electrically active, integrate into the ENS circuitry and functionally innervate the gut muscle.  We have embarked on a program to rescue rats from certain death by bypassing the defective bowel, restoring function by stem cell therapy and then re-joining the bowel as illustrated below.
In this project you will participate in the rescue of Hirschsprung rats and you will evaluate recolonization using structural and functional methods. 



Research Opportunities

PhD students, Honours students, Master of Biomedical Science
Students who are interested in joining this project will need to consider their elegibility as well as other requirements before contacting the supervisor of this research

Graduate Research application

Honours application

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact a supervisor.


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