Does a protein called survivin reduce myelin production?

In MS, some immune cells mistakenly attack myelin around nerve cells, which causes inflammation and leaves nerves vulnerable to damage. Luckily, the human body has an amazing natural ability to repair myelin. But this natural ability gets less effective as we age and in people with MS. 

Researchers think a protein called survivin might work against our natural ability to repair myelin. 

New myelin is made by cells in the brain called glia. A protein called SEH1 is involved in this process by activating the myelin making genes. 

Another protein called survivin is found at unusually high levels in brain tissue samples from people with progressive MS. And the researchers have now found that survivin binds to the SEH1 protein.  

About the project 

The researchers want to know if the survivin protein might reduce myelin production. They think by binding to SEH1, survivin prevents it from activating myelin-making genes. The researchers will manipulate the levels of survivin protein in cells in a dish in the lab.  

They’ll then measure if SEH1 activates the myelin genes and if more myelin protein gets produced. And they’ll compare how low and high levels of survivin influence this. 

How will it help people with 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. 

Some treatments targeting the survivin protein are already used to treat cancer. If the researchers find survivin reduces myelin production, these drugs may be repurposed for treating MS in the future. Or it may help us find new treatments that target this mechanism in the future.  

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.