Does stimulating brain activity improve myelin repair?
Dr Tobias Merson, Monash University, has been awarded an MS Research Australia Project Grant, funded by the Trish MS Research Foundation over two years.
· * Repair of myelin is one of the holy grails of MS research, in the hope that new therapies might be developed that repair existing damage.
· * Dr Merson’s team have shown that increasing electrical activity in nerve cells increases the formation of new myelin and blocking electrical activity reduce the ability of myelin to repair.
· * In the first year of this project, Dr Merson has successfully completed experiments that increased electrical activity of nerve cells in a laboratory model of MS and analysis of these results is currently underway.
Progress to Date
In the first year of this project, Dr Merson has completed the experiments to increase the electrical activity in nerve cells in laboratory models of MS. Dr Merson achieved this by introducing a specific protein to the nerve cells and administrating a drug, this combination in turn increases the number of electrical impulses the nerve cells produce. The drug is administered for a period of two weeks from the time that the myelin repair normally begins. This will allow Dr Merson to determine whether the increased electrical activity resulted in more efficient myelin repair. The brain tissue that had the increased electrical activity will now be compared to unstimulated tissue under the microscope.
This grant has also contributed to Dr Merson successfully securing over $1 million from the National Health and Medical Research Council to expand this work.