brain and spinal
cord damage in MS
It has long been known that the symptoms of
the MS result from an immune attack on the myelin, the protective sheath that
covers the nerve fibres in the brain and spinal cord. However, it is now
thought that other targets can be also be damaged in MS leading to the
destruction of nerve fibres.
Jae Lee, from the Monash Immunology and Stem Cell Laboratories, was awarded a
postgraduate scholarship in 2013, funded by the Trish MS Research Foundation,
to carry out research towards a PhD looking at ways to block a modified protein
that is known to damage nerve fibres. The project is using novel methods and
delivery systems to the brain and spinal cord, and it is hoped that this
research will provide a new approach for preventing illness progression in
people with MS.
is working with Dr Steven Petratos, who was a recipient in the Trish
Foundation’s inaugural round of funding, and has made excellent progress in his
research. Jae has shown that blocking the modified protein was associated with
significantly less damage to the myelin surrounding the nerve fibres in a
laboratory model of MS. He also showed that the mice that lacked a gene
involved in the same pathway had less severe symptoms of MS.
These mice may
also have differences in the structure of the nerve fibres and myelin – which
may have important repercussions for future treatment options for MS.
recently, Jae has completed some very exciting work which moves this research
to human cells. In this phase of the study, Jae used human haematopoietic stem
cells to produce a type of cell that can mature into myelin-producing
oligodendrocyte cells, in order to study the process of remyelination. Jae
Lee’s findings in this area have been very interesting and may be useful in
determining new treatment options for MS. The team have recently filed for a
provisional patent based on this work.
‘During my PhD,
I have been able to decipher one molecular mechanism behind axonal degeneration
and remyelination in MS and it is promising to target these mechanisms during
MS to halt progression of disease. Although, this research has not completed
yet, so far I think my PhD was very successful’ commented Jae Lee.
agree. Jae Lee’s research has so far resulted in eight publications in the
scientific literature, with three more in preparation. Jae was also able to
spend two months in a Canadian research laboratory as part of an international
collaboration. Over the course of his degree, Jae has also presented his
research to his peers at four international conferences and five national
conferences. Feedback from more experienced researchers is vital to the
development of young researchers such as Jae Lee. We look forward to more
exciting results from him in the years to come.