During the last two decades, the increasing needs for the development of effective diagnostic and therapeutic reagents for traumatic and neurodegenerative disorders of the central nervous system (CNS) have given a great impetus to neural/stem cell research. In addition to billions of neurons, the mammalian brain contains three major types of glial cells: astrocytes (a predominant glial cell type comprizing nearly 50% of the human brain), oligodendrocytes (a minor cell type in the brain comprizing the myelinating glia, i.e. the cells insulating neuronal processes), and microglia/brain macrophages (the immunoeffector cells and major cell type expressing MHC class II antigens in the traumatic brain). Glial cells are major players in human brain health and pathology and much more than fillers and insulators. It now becomes evident that glial cells actively participate in essential cellular processes as diverse as axonal pathfinding and final positioning during brain development, synapse formation and plasticity, neurotransmission, axonal trophic support and energy metabolism, brain homeostasis, transport mechanisms, and neuronal survival.
The problem. For many years, oligodendrocyte dysfunction or damage has mainly been associated with myelin diseases (i.e. multiple sclerosis (MS), leukodystrophies, or different kinds of neuropathies) and impaired remyelination capacity during CNS regeneration. Oligodendrocytes are also the main cellular source of inhibitory molecules known to contribute to the poor regenerative capacity of the human CNS after injury. It is now evident that the majority of neurodegenerative CNS diseases are associated with an impairment of oligodendrocyte function and survival. Oligodendrocyte dysfunction and myelin abnormalities hallmark early pathological changes in a number of neurodegenerative diseases, such as MS, Alzheimer´s and Parkinson´s disease, traumatic brain injury, schizophrenia, and cognitive dysfunction in different kinds of dementia. Strategies targeting oligodendrocytes and myelin would therefore provide new preventive and therapeutic opportunities for the worldwide rapidly increasing number of people suffering from such diseases. Studies on neural cells, however, are largely restricted by the lack of reliable and easy-to-use cell-based assays for large-scale in vitro screening. The culture of primary oligodendrocytes and defined populations of CNS neurons under adequate, in vivo-like conditions (normal or pathological) require highly specialized media and reagents for cell culture and a strong expertise in neurobiology.
The P.Glia solution. With its know-how in molecular & cellular neurobiology and biotechnology, P.Glia meets these needs by providing specialized glial and neuronal cell-based platforms and new molecular tools for the application of neural cells associated with such diseases for which convincing diagnostic and/or therapeutic concepts are yet missing.
P.Glia develops own CNS trauma models based on defined disease markers inducing traumatic changes in oligodendrocytes and neurons. P.Glia CNS trauma models allow reliable target cell analyses for (a) biomarker discovery (gene/protein expression profiling of oligodendrocytes or neurons treated with defined disease markers) and (b) drug screening/drug validation for oligodendrocyte or neuron rescue under traumatic conditions.
Applications of P.Glia trauma models (oligodendrocytes, CNS neurons):
- MS research, leukodystrophies, neuropathies
- Alzheimer´s and Parkinson´s diseases
- schizophrenia, other psychiatric disorders
- different kinds of dementia
- traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- CNS injury/axon regeneration
- basic research, in vitro myelination assays