Which proteins cause nerve damage in progressive MS?

Photo: Closeup of microscope

Lead researcher: Prof Gabriele DeLuca

Based at: University of Oxford

MS Society funding: £232,673

Status: Active

About the project

When nerve cells die in MS it can result in permanent disability. Gabriele’s lab has shown that a protein molecule called fibrinogen is found in higher amounts in the brains of people with progressive MS. More fibrinogen is associated with more nerve loss. And in animal studies, fibrinogen has been shown to stimulate special immune cells called microglia to release proteins that damage nerves.

Gabriele’s team will compare the proteins released by microglia cells in brain tissue from people with and without MS. They'll investigate if these proteins differ in brains with high and low levels of fibrinogen. They'll also see if certain genes play a role in how microglia react to fibrinogen. This work will identify proteins associated with nerve cell loss in MS, and what causes them to be produced by immune cells.

How will it help people with MS?

By identifying the nerve-damaging molecules that are released in the brain in MS, we can develop treatments to stop them. This project will help us to understand more about the causes of nerve loss in MS and how the condition advances in progressive MS.

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

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