How Nerve Cells influence
Myelin Repair in the Brain
Project Grant over three years commencing 2019 to which the Trish MS Research Foundation is contributing
Investigator: Dr Junhua Xiao
The University of Melbourne, Victoria
Co-investigator: Dr Timothy Aumman
In MS, the immune system damages the myelin or fatty protective cover of nerve fibres in the brain and spinal cord, leaving the nerve cells vulnerable to breaking down. The body’s natural ability to repair myelin is often insufficient, and the nerve fibres remain vulnerable to further break down. While there have been a number of advances in the treatment of MS, they mostly target the immune system to prevent attacks against the myelin. However, such therapies do not directly help regenerate any damage that might persist. Therefore there is clear need to develop ways to enhance the repair of myelin.
In this project the scientists will be looking at a protein called TrkB which is made in the nerve cells in the brain and seems to be important in the remyelination process. Using a combination of ground-breaking scientific approaches, this project will look at what happens to the remyelination process in cells in the presence and absence of TrkB. Dr Junhua Xiao will investigate whether it impacts on the number of myelin producing cells known as oligodendrocytes, and whether it protects against the breakdown of nerve fibres. It is important to determine precisely how TrkB promotes remyelination because this will indicate potential new drug targets to promote remyelination in MS.