Can special proteins promote myelin repair in MS?

If we can repair myelin in the brain and spinal cord, we might be able to slow or stop MS progression. But there are currently no licensed treatments that can boost myelin repair.

The human body has an amazing natural ability to repair myelin. To develop new drugs, we need a better understanding of what helps us to make new myelin.

Early research

We need special immune cells called microglia and macrophages to repair myelin. They do this by helping to tidy up old myelin debris.

Recently researchers found an increase in specific molecules that sit on these immune cells, in animals with an MS-like condition and in samples of people with MS. These molecules are called proteins Dectin-1, Dectin-2 and Mincle.

But not much research has been done into the role of these proteins in MS. And we currently don’t know if they might play a role in myelin repair.

About the project

This study will investigate two questions:

  1. Do these proteins help with the tidying of old myelin debris?
  2. Do these proteins help with myelin repair?

To answer these questions, the researchers will use cells in a dish and brain tissue from mice. They’ll compare cells and tissue that contains all three proteins with cells and tissue that doesn’t.

How will it help people with MS?

This is a brand-new branch of MS research. If the researchers find these proteins promote the repair of myelin, we could use this knowledge to develop new treatments. This is exciting because currently there’s no approved treatments that can promote myelin repair.

Treatments targeting one of the proteins are already being investigated in other conditions, like fungal infections. If the results show that the proteins promote myelin repair, these treatments could potentially be repurposed for MS.

The difference you can make

The race is on to find treatments that will slow or even stop disability progression in MS. By donating to the MS Society you will be supporting innovative projects like this.