Developing methods to promote
the creation of new myelin in MS
Incubator Grant over one year in 2019 fully funded by the Trish MS Research Foundation
Investigator: Associate Professor Anthony Don
The University of Sydney, NSW
Co-investigator: Dr Jonathan David Teo
In MS, the immune system mistakenly attacks the protective layer on nerve cells known as myelin. The removal or damage of myelin is known as demyelination and it results in some of the symptoms observed in people with MS. Current treatments for MS focus on suppressing the immune system and there are yet to be any therapies developed that promote the re-myelination of nerves, which is needed to reverse MS symptoms.
Associate Professor Anthony Don has developed evidence that a naturally occurring signalling chemical in the body known as sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P), is important for the creation and maintenance of myelin. One of the MS medications, fingolimod (Gilenya), which modulates the immune system, is known to mimic S1P and there is some evidence to suggest that it might also promote remyelination. How it might do this, however, is not yet clear.
This project will aim to determine how S1P might stimulate myelin repair and assess whether this S1P is needed for the body’s natural ability to remyelinate nerves following an MS relapse. The work has direct and immediate significance for MS, as it will clarify whether drugs, such as fingolimod and other similar drugs currently being developed, should be investigated as myelin repair therapies, as well as immune modifying treatments for MS.