Vilhelm Magnus Lab
In 1982, a germ of the lab could be found in a corner of the Institute for Experimental Medical Research at Ullevål Hospital where I was starting as a resident in the neurosurgical department. Later we moved to the National Hospital where Egil Amundsen generously offered space in the Institute for Surgical Research. In the early years we mainly worked on cerebral ischemia and neuro-pharmacology. Jon Berg-Johnsen, who now also is professor of neurosurgery, was the first PhD student in the lab. During the 90ies 5 people did their PhD thesis with us. In addition a smaller part of a sixth thesis was produced here.
From 2002 the direction of research was changed. A few groups had then shown that the human brain contain cells that may differentiate into the principal building blocks of the brain (neurons, astrocytes and oligodendrocytes). This gave hope for treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, but still nobody had shown that what looked under the microscope as nerve cells actually were functional neurons defined by the ability to generate action potentials and communicate by synapses. This became the focus of Morten C Moe and Mercy Varghese, postdoc and PhD student in my group when I was professor at Karolinska Institutet. For the first time it was shown that the adult human brain contain stem-like cells that can differentiate into functional neurons (Moe MC et al, Neurosurgery 56:1182-1188, 2005, Moe MC et al, Brain 128:2189-2199, 2005, Westerlund U et al, Exp Cell Res. 2003;289:378-83). Håvard Ølstørn then transplanted stem cells from the adult human brain to the adult rodent brain and studied targeted migration, survival and differentiation (Olstorn H et al Neurosurgery 60:1089-98; 2007, and Neurosurgery 2010 in press). Wayne Murrell is now developing more efficient ways to cultivate these cells.
In the meantime we started to grow cells from brain tumors and observed (as did other groups) that cells from glioblastomas share some characteristics with stem cells. We started to compare these cell types systematically (Varghese M et al Neurosurgery 63:1022-33, 2008), our hypothesis being that a spectrum of qualities that exist in tumor stem cells, but not in normal stem cells, should 1) contain the properties that constitute the cancer, and 2) define possible targets for treatment. To this end Cecilie Sandberg, Kirsten Strømme and Linda Paulson compare gene and protein expression, Einar Vik-Mo investigates cell types and hierarchy, and Awais Mughal Ahmad, Håvard Skjellegrind, and Mrinal Joel with Biljana Stangeland study genes of particular interest.
National Research Council, CAST, Norwegian Stem Cell Center, Helse og Rehabilitering, Norwegian Parkinson Association, European Union and Oslo University Hospital.