What is the role of cholesterol in progressive MS?

Owain-Howell

Lead researcher: Dr Owain Howell

Based at: Swansea University

MS Society funding: £93,333

Status: Active

About the project

Cholesterol fats are essential for our health, but too much cholesterol can be harmful. The cholesterol-lowering drug simvastatin is currently being tested to see if it can slow the accumulation of disability in progressive MS, although the mechanism behind this is not fully understood. This project will investigate the effect statins have on oxidised cholesterols, known as oxysterol, and whether this effect could protect nerve cells in MS.

Owain’s team will compare the levels of oxysterols in brain tissue donated by people with MS who took statins and those who did not. They will identify which oxysterols are potentially the most important in MS, and test their ability to influence myelin repair in cell cultures in a dish.

How will it help people with MS?

Understanding how drugs work and the mechanisms behind MS is a vital step to developing effective treatments to stop it. This project will help explain how statins might help in MS and the role of oxysterols in MS progression.

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£10a month could pay for lab equipment like microscope slides to study the building blocks of MS

£20a month could pay for lab equipment like petri dishes to grow bacteria important for studying genetics

£30a month could process a blood sample to help us understand what causes MS, so we can stop it in its tracks

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Photo: young girl with MS sits in hospital chair smiling at male nurse