Pioneer probe of nervous system

October 20, 1995

Glaxo Wellcome is giving a further Pounds 7 million to London's new strategic medical research institute this week for work on the role nitric oxide plays in sending messages through the central nervous system.

The institute, which links Wellcome scientists with teams from St George's Hospital Medical School and King's College School of Medicine, already received Pounds 2 million at its launch.

Salvador Moncada, director of the institute, the Cruciform Project, which is houses in the former University College Hospital, says there is strong evidence that nitric oxide plays a important role in memory, regulation of blood pressure, and - the area that Glaxo Wellcome is particularly interested in - the immunological defence mechanism. The research could help develop understanding and treatment for septic shock and inflammatory diseases.

Professor Moncada said that the Cruciform Project will focus on three areas. One is investigating cardiovascular disease and why arteries get blocked. "This is the underlying cause of heart attacks and strokes - major causes of deaths and disability. We want to know how the blocking occurs and how it can be controlled," he said.

A second area of research is neuronal damage and repair. After a stroke, parts of the brain do not always recover. Researchers will be looking at ways of preventing or minimising damage. The work will also investigate diseases such as Alzheimer's, which is becoming more common. The third topic will be cell replication, regulation and proliferation, all important to finding a cure or treatment for cancer.

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