Encouraging the natural repair
abilities of immune cells
In MS, the immune system mistakenly attacks parts of the brain and spinal cord, or the central nervous system (CNS). One part of the CNS that is attacked is the myelin. Normally, myelin coats the nerve cells in the brain, allowing them to send signals quickly and efficiently.
The immune system is made up of a number of different cell types, and one of which is the macrophages. Macrophages are cell type that can behave differently depending on the circumstances – they can switch between destroying myelin or promoting the remyelination of nerve cells.
Dr Claire McCoy from the Hudson Institute of Medical Research, Victoria, is investigating a molecule that is involved in this switch, called miR-155. During this incubator grant, Dr McCoy will investigate the role of miR-155 in macrophages by deleting this molecule only from macrophage cells (not other immune cell types) in a laboratory model of MS. The impact of this will be assessed in relation to disease outcomes, and the effect it has on other cells of the immune system, and cells in the CNS.
This project could provide a new therapeutic target that may enable the body to promote repair of the damage caused by MS, potentially reversing the effects of the disease.