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Image shows Amar in a lab coat smiling at camera against background of science lab

My search for the key to turn back ageing in stem cells

Dr Amar Sharma

Hi! My name is Amar, I'm a PhD student at the MS Society Cambridge Centre for Myelin Repair, but a born and bred Londoner at heart.

I went to school in Kingston and stayed close to home for my undergraduate and master’s degrees at University College London. I love cooking. My mum’s family have been in the restaurant and catering business for more than 70 years, so I learnt from the best from an early age!

Getting into MS research

After university, I spent some time working in fundamental biology. But I always wanted to work on developing treatments for a condition which affects people every day in the real world.

I chose to focus on MS because I believe that treatments to stop MS are a real possibility within the next decade and I would like to be a part of that.

I'm excited by the pace of MS research

I’m really excited by the pace of research nowadays. We now have tools that mean we can investigate questions which would have been impossible to answer even five years ago. And this trend shows no sign of slowing down.

Although we still don’t know the exact cause of MS, soon we will know enough about what goes wrong to develop treatments like those for HIV. With the right treatments, people with HIV can live largely symptom-free. I believe this can be the reality for people with MS too.

It's crucial we know more about MS at a molecular level

There is still quite a lot we need to find out about what exactly is going on in the molecules and cells of people with MS. Without this type of research, it would be impossible to develop effective treatments.

I’m currently studying a special type of cell with a catchy name - Oligodendrocyte Precursor Cell (or OPCs). These are stem cells that transform into cells that make myelin, the protective covering around our nerves that gets damaged in MS. I’m looking at what happens to these OPCs as we age, and how we can encourage them to rejuvenate more efficiently.

If I had all the money in the world for research...

It would speed everything up! There are lots of questions that I’d like to explore, but I’m only one person in a small team. More research technicians and equipment to automate my experiments, would mean I could test my theories much more quickly.

I truly believe that with the right funding, MS could be symptomless condition with no effect on quality of life within the next 10 years. And you can help.

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