The Perry Cross Foundation has partnered with Bond University to provide funding for a three-year spinal injury research project.
The Foundation will provide $90,000 over three years to sponsor PhD student Rita Juneji, who will conduct the research into spinal and nervous system damage under the supervision of Bond University Professor of Anatomy and Histology Kuldip Bedi.
An Alumnus of Bond University, quadriplegic Perry Cross first established a relationship with Bond University’s Research Unit in November 2007, when he became aware of the research being conducted by Professor Bedi.
Professor Bedi has been studying the factors behind the regeneration and repair of injured nervous systems on-and-off for the previous 15 years.
“The nervous system is made up of an intricate network of axons, or ‘wires’, which can get cut or damaged in serious brain or spinal cord injuries,” Professor Bedi explained.
“What we’re trying to do is to get those wires to grow back and make the right connections so function is restored.
“Some fish and amphibian species have the ability to regenerate their axons, or wires, even when they’ve been cut right through. But in the evolution from amphibians to mammals, something changed that stopped that from happening.
“Learning about how our cold-blooded counterparts manage to regenerate their central nervous system gives us an insight into how we can achieve that in mammals, and of course, humans,” Professor Bedi said.
“Previous research has shown us that it is possible for mammalian axons to regenerate in a tissue culture environment, but we’re yet to find out what is stopping that from happening inside the body.
“If we can identify those inhibitory factors, we can find drugs or ways of blocking them and be able to then repair the damaged nervous system to the point where quadriplegics and paraplegics are able to walk again,” he said.
While Professor Bedi is confident that the answer will be found sometime, he says it’s difficult to say whether that will be in Perry’s lifetime.
“This sort of research is happening in an awful lot of laboratories around the world. The crucial discovery could be made next year, or in ten years time, but there are advances happening all the time,” he said.
The Perry Cross Foundation was established in 2005 to fund medical research to find a cure for paralysis.
Perry Cross said he is excited that the Foundation is able to fund such well known research at a local level.
"I support the notion of local charities getting behind local endeavours and think it is important that people are made aware of the fact that Bond University is doing such great research," Mr Cross said.