Can a protein involved in inflammation benefit myelin repair?


In MS, the immune system mistakenly attacks the myelin surrounding nerves, causing inflammation in the brain. Current drugs aim to prevent this damage by blocking the immune system. But these drugs don’t work for everyone with MS.

A protein called NLRP3 is activated during inflammation in the brain. Researchers think finding ways to block this protein could mean new treatments for people with MS. But they don’t fully understand how it works and if blocking it could have negative side effects. For example, it might also stop myelin repair.

About the project

This project will investigate NLRP3 to to find out what role it plays in MS. The aim will be to understand whether research should focus on finding treatments that control NLRP3.

This is a PhD project and will support one student. The student will use cells in a dish, donations from the MS Tissue Bank and mice with an MS-like condition to learn if NLRP3 controls myelin-making cells. And to find out at what stage in myelin damage and myelin repair NLRP3 appears.

How will it help people with MS?

The knowledge generated here will inform future directions of new treatments for MS. 

Drugs blocking NLRP3 are already in clinical trials for Parkinson’s disease. If NLRP3 has no negative effects on myelin repair, this could encourage a quick turnaround for clinical trials for MS. If NLRP3 can prevent myelin repair, this project would point reseearchers to find ways to fine-tune drugs targeting NLRP3 in MS.