How does nerve cell communication go wrong in MS?

About the project

In MS, the protective myelin coating that surrounds nerve cells becomes damaged. When this happens, messages find it harder to get through and the nerve fibres become increasingly vulnerable to damage. And over time they may be lost. When this happens, messages can no longer get through and symptoms become permanent.

Most research so far has focused on the loss of myelin in MS, but nerve cells can become damaged even when myelin is intact. Normally, myelin-making cells called oligodendrocytes protect nerve fibres. For reasons that aren't understood, oligodendrocytes in MS lose this ability to protect nerve fibres. Researchers believe this is one of the main reasons why nerve fibres get injured in progressive MS.

Dr Edgar and her team aim to identify how nerve cells communicate with myelin-making cells. In the new research the team will test how this process goes wrong in people with MS. Is it because the nerve cell can no longer signal to the myelin-making cells or is it because the myelin-making cells can no longer ‘read’ or respond to signals from the nerve cell?

If the team can uncover how this communication goes wrong in MS, they could identify potential ways to correct it.

How will it help people with MS?

We know that nerve cell communication goes wrong in MS and this can lead to progression. Understanding why and how this occurs is an important step in developing effective treatments for MS.

The difference you can make

Help us fund research into understanding nerve cell communication and how this leads to disability in MS.