can generate new brain tissue in mice and produce large amounts of new brain cells in culture for use as possible replacements for dead or injured cells.
The UF project is "bold" because it takes a comprehensive view of regenerative medicine, according to Arlene Y. Chiu, Ph.D., director for scientific activities at the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine.
"We are all excited by the great potential of stem cells to repair damage and return function," Chiu said. "It remains a great mystery, however, why some organisms are able to renew tissues, organs and even restore whole limbs while other related animals are not. Even within a single organism, we find that some tissues have a far more robust ability to replenish and replace cells than others. Yet we do not understand the bases for these differences."
The gift from the Maren Foundation, named for the late UF researcher Thomas H. Maren, will provide immediate funding. Maren spent most of his career at UF's College of Medicine and his research led to the development of Trusopt, an important drug for the treatment of glaucoma.
The Thompson's gift creates the Jon L. and Beverly A. Thompson Research Endowment, which will provide ongoing income to support The Regeneration Project and other research at UF's McKnight Brain Institute. Jon Thompson is a retired executive with ExxonMobil. He earned a bachelor's and a master's degree in geology from UF. Beverly Thompson earned a master's degree in education from UF.
"In our view the collaboration of outstanding researchers under the leadership of Dennis Steindler shows great promise," said Jon Thompson. "We envision the day when adult stem cells will be routinely used against many diseases."
The Regeneration Project will shortly begin establishing its think tank of international scientists, Steindler said.
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