Czech Republic joins Brain Awareness Week


The brain is the most complex structure of the human body. Despite enormous advances in brain research, in industrialised countries disorders of the brain and the central nervous system remain the leading cause of disability, and account for more hospitalisations and prolonged care than almost all other diseases combined. This week the Czech Republic is joining other countries in Brain Awareness Week - a series of events held around the world to increase public awareness the progress and benefits of brain research.

This week radio announcements, information leaflets, public lectures and other events aim to raise awareness of the importance of brain research worldwide. The Czech scientific community has prepared a series of public lectures, presenting the latest in neuroscientific research in the Czech Republic. The President of the Czech Neuroscience Society, Professor Josef Syka.

"I would say that several disciplines are going through quite new research. I would say that stem-cell research is going quite well. Also, several aspects of the research in neuropsychiatry are comparable with research in the world, not speaking about the new research in mediators and synaptic transmission plasticity and so on. So I believe the situation in neuroscience research in the Czech Republic is relatively good. There are several teams that have European, even world standards, and I hope very much that there will be enough finances to support it."

Professor Eva Sykova is the head of the Institute of Experimental Medicine of the Czech Academy of Sciences. She is one of the leading figures in Czech stem-cell research.

"In the Czech Republic we have the so-called 'Centre for Cell Therapy and Tissue Repair and the programme of the centre, which combines five institutions in our country, leading Academy institutes and clinical departments - the aim is to study basic things about stem cells, about embryonic stem cells, about adult stem cells, particularly from bone marrow and then their use for the treatment of various diseases."

The team of Professor Eva Sykova is chiefly concerned with stem-cell research concerning the brain and spinal cord.

"My team is particularly interested in brain repair and spinal cord repair. We have various experiments on animals where we use these stem cells, and we also use biomaterials, like hydrogels, and nanofibres to make scaffolds and all sorts of bridges for the injury in the spinal cord. We also use nanotechnologies. We use them particularly for labelling the stem cells and for following their migration in the tissue and their fate. Also nanoparticles can be used for the delivery of factors which enhance regeneration."