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Brain cell transplants win Fernström Prize
Date:9/12/2011

This year's Fernstrm Foundation Nordic Prize, with prize money of SEK 1 million, goes to Professor Anders Bjrklund from Lund University, Sweden. He is a neurology researcher focusing on neurodegenerative diseases, diseases in which the nerve cells die. Professor Bjrklund's research group is trying to develop customised stem cells to treat Parkinson's disease.

Shipowner Eric K. Fernstrm's foundation is based at the Faculty of Medicine at Lund University. The Foundation awards an annual Nordic prize of SEK 1 million and local prizes of SEK 100 000 each to promising young researchers at Sweden's six university medical faculties.

This year's prize recognises Anders Bjrklund's "development of innovative forms of treatment for Parkinson's disease". The work began in the 1970s, when his research group were pioneers in transplanting new nerve cells into the brain. At the time, most researchers did not consider this either possible or meaningful.

"The prevailing view was that the brain was a sort of switchboard, a closed control room that couldn't be changed. Now, on the other hand, we know that the brain is plastic it changes all the time depending on the individual's development and possible diseases", says Anders Bjrklund.

The transplantation of brain cells has grown into a major international research field. In Lund, a number of patients with Parkinson's disease have received nerve cell transplants. However, the results have been mixed: some patients have seen a marked improvement, while others have not been affected at all. The fetal brain cells used in these trials are difficult to obtain in sufficiently large numbers, and too varied in quality to form the basis for a more regular treatment.

Hope is therefore in stem cells which are customised to produce dopamine, the substance which Parkinson's patients lack. The vision is to halt the progression of the disease at an early stage through a one-off treatment with thes
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Contact: Professor Anders Bjrklund
Anders.Bjorklund@med.lu.se
46-703-146-761
Lund University
Source:Eurekalert

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