The Translational Neuroscience Facility (TNF) is a core neuroscience research platform in the School of Biomedical Sciences at UNSW Sydney. The TNF broadly supports neuroscience research and advanced translational research training in the School of Biomedical Sciences directed towards treatment of neurological disorders.
Collaborating teams embedded within the TNF focus on translating basic neuroscience discovery to therapeutic applications. Research themes include hearing loss, leukodystrophies (genetic disorders that affect the CNS white matter), spinal injury repair, neuroimmunological basis of neuropathic pain (seeking new treatments for nerve injury), CNS neural plasticity underlying memory & addiction, novel therapeutic approaches for reducing brain injury from stroke and brain trauma, and sensory neural coding for sensory diagnostics and bionic touch in pursuit of restoring/augmenting damaged sensory systems. Collaborative funding with other groups within Brain Sciences UNSW extend CNS applications to the field of epilepsy and neurodegeneration research (Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s). Industry Partnerships are a key feature of TNF activities and are a proven pathway for development of new capabilities, knowledge exchange and career development.
Novel therapeutic initiatives emerging from the TNF include the development of BaDGE®- Bionic array Directed Gene Electrotransfer for ‘dial-up’ localised gene therapy/augmentation across the peripheral, autonomic and central nervous systems and muscle, and broader DNA therapeutics applications such as DNA vaccine delivery platform development. With industry partner support from Cochlear Ltd, proof of principle was achieved with cochlear implants, where electric field focusing of the bionic electrode arrays produced controlled delivery of a therapeutic neurotrophin gene cassette within the cochlea. This drove regeneration of the auditory nerve and improved cochlear implant performance in pre-clinical models. The study is now migrating to a first-in-human clinical trial with funding from the NHMRC, and Garnett Passe and Rodney Williams Memorial Foundation philanthropic support. The Cochlear Implant Neurotrophin Gene Therapy (www.cingt.info) clinical trial consortium is a collaboration of neuroscience, biomedical engineering and clinical teams at UNSW Sydney (Translational Neuroscience Facility & Graduate School of Biomedical Engineering, The Bionics Institute (University of Melbourne), University of Sydney, Sydney Cochlear Implant Centre, Macquarie University and Cochlear Ltd. Other preclinical translational initiatives include the development of a viral vector platform for cell specific gene expression to treat leukodystrophies, and a new therapeutic strategy for suppressing neural signalling driving propagation of brain injury in Stroke in partnership with the biopharmaceutical company Norbio #1 – Nyrada Inc.
The translational platform incorporates complementary gene delivery technologies (including the proprietary gene electrotransfer (BaDGE®) platform and a viral vector core (custom AAV production)); cellular and intravital brain imaging via a Zeiss – Spectra-Physics multi-photon laserscanning microscope; electrophysiology (including patch-clamp, audiometry, nerve excitability and electromyography/nerve conduction); bionics (e.g. cochlear implants) and advanced surgical and behavioural testing, including environmental sound chambers for assessing the impact of environmental noise in pre-clinical models, and an audiology suite for clinical translation of hearing health.
Ms Myungseo Ko
Ms Lauren Kress
Mr Yogeesan Sivakumaran
Mr Tze Ling Loh
Dr Sherif Tadros