Investigating molecular targets for remyelination
Dr Jessica Fletcher, funded by an MS Research Australia Postdoctoral Fellowship, with the support of the Trish MS Research Foundation has made significant progress over the course of her research fellowship.
Dr Fletcher undertook a fellowship to look at a naturally occurring biological pathway that promotes myelin repair using a molecule called Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF). She has found that when a laboratory model of MS was given BDNF, Erk1/2 pathways within the myelin producing cells. In turn, this appears to enhance myelin repair, as at the same time, she discovered that more nerve cells were myelinated, and had a thicker myelin sheath.
Dr Fletcher was able to show that removing this pathway within the cells stopped the myelin repair, proving that this pathway is required for myelin repair. This is the first time this has been demonstrated and these findings have been submitted for publication in scientific journals and has already been presented at national and international conferences.
As a result of her work, Dr Fletcher also secured further grants from the Ian Potter Foundation, the Gordon Research Conferences, the International Society for Neurochemistry and The University of Melbourne. This research provided preliminary data for grants awarded by the ARC Discovery Project Scheme, CASS Foundation and United States Department of Defense. Dr Fletcher was awarded the 2018 Melbourne Neuroscience Institute Fellowship which will allow her to continue to this work.