Translational Neuroscience Facility

About the TNF

The Translational Neuroscience Facility (TNF) is a core neuroscience research platform in the School of Medical Sciences at UNSW Sydney. The TNF broadly supports neuroscience research and advanced translational research training in the School of Medical 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.  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).

Novel therapeutics initiatives emerging from the TNF include the development of BaDGE® - Bionic array Directed Gene Electrotransfer  for ‘dial-up’ localized gene therapy / gene augmentation across the peripheral, autonomic and central nervous systems and muscle.  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 pre-clinical model drove regeneration of the auditory nerve and improved cochlear implant performance.  The study is not migrating to a first-in-human clinical trial with funding support from the NHMRC, Garnett Passe and Rodney Williams Memorial Foundation supporting the CINGT  - Cochlear Implant Neurotrophin Gene Therapy clinical trial consortium of  groups 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.

The translational platform incorporates complementary gene delivery technologies (including a viral vector core and the proprietary gene electrotransfer (BaDGE®) platform; cellular and intravital brain imaging; electrophysiology (including patch-clamp, audiometry, nerve excitability and electromyography/nerve conduction); bionics (e.g. cochlear implants).

Research teams within the TNF are:

 

People

Research Support Officer: Dr. Tom Sobey

Electronics & Instrumentation Engineer: Mr Edward Crawford

Former staff and Alumni

Funding

  • National Health & Medical Research Council (NHMRC)
  • Australian Research Council (ARC)
  • Cochlear Ltd
  • NSW Office for Science and Medical Research (OSMR)
  • Brain Foundation
  • Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation
  • Ramaciotti Foundation
  • Royal Australasian College of Physicians
  • Deutsche Forschungsgesellschaft (DFG)
  • European Leukodystrophy Association (ELA)
  • European Commission FP7
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