New research points to potential treatment strategies for multiple sclerosis

June 24, 2013, Cell Press
Myelin, the fatty coating that protects neurons in the brain and spinal cord, is destroyed in diseases such as multiple sclerosis. Researchers have been striving to determine whether oligodendrocytes, the cells that produce myelin, can be stimulated to make new myelin. Using live imaging in zebrafish to track oligodendrocytes in real time, researchers reporting in the June 24 issue of the Cell Press journal Developmental Cell discovered that individual oligodendrocytes coat neurons with myelin for only five hours after they are born. If the findings hold true in humans, they could lead to new treatment strategies for multiple sclerosis. Credit: Developmental Cell, Czopka et al.

Myelin, the fatty coating that protects neurons in the brain and spinal cord, is destroyed in diseases such as multiple sclerosis. Researchers have been striving to determine whether oligodendrocytes, the cells that produce myelin, can be stimulated to make new myelin. Using live imaging in zebrafish to track oligodendrocytes in real time, researchers reporting in the June 24 issue of the Cell Press journal Developmental Cell discovered that individual oligodendrocytes coat neurons with myelin for only five hours after they are born. If the findings hold true in humans, they could lead to new treatment strategies for multiple sclerosis.

"The study could help improve our understanding of the triggers needed to encourage cells to produce myelin," says senior author Dr. David Lyons, of the University of Edinburgh, UK. For example, if scientists could determine what is blocking the cells from making myelin after five hours, they might be able to remove that blockage. Alternatively, treatments could focus on creating more new oligodendrocytes rather than trying to stimulate existing oligodendrocytes.

Dr. Lyons and his team used zebrafish to study the formation of by oligodendrocytes because this laboratory animal is transparent at early stages of its development, which allows investigators to directly observe cells within the organism. It is also known that zebrafish and humans have very similar genes, and these similarities extend to more than 80% of the genes associated with human disease. Zebrafish therefore respond in very similar ways to most drugs used for therapeutic purposes in humans.

"In the future, will be used to identify new genes and drugs that can influence myelin formation and myelin repair," says Dr. Lyons.

Explore further: New drug target identified for multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer's disease

More information: dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.devcel.2013.05.013

Related Stories

New drug target identified for multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer's disease

January 30, 2013
Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) led by Carmela Abraham, PhD, professor of biochemistry, along with Cidi Chen, PhD, and other collaborators, report that the protein Klotho plays an important role ...

Changes in nerve cells may contribute to the development of mental illness

November 28, 2012
Reduced production of myelin, a type of protective nerve fiber that is lost in diseases like multiple sclerosis, may also play a role in the development of mental illness, according to researchers at the Graduate School of ...

Finding challenges accepted view of MS: Unexpectedly, damaged nerve fibers survive

February 6, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—Multiple sclerosis, a brain disease that affects over 400,000 Americans, causes movement difficulties and many neurologic symptoms. MS has two key elements: The nerves that direct muscular movement lose ...

Androgenic hormones could help treat multiple sclerosis, study finds

January 30, 2013
Testosterone and its derivatives could constitute an efficient treatment against myelin diseases such as multiple sclerosis, reveals a study by researchers from the Laboratoire d'Imagerie et de Neurosciences Cognitives. Myelin ...

Researchers discover dynamic behavior of progenitor cells in brain

May 9, 2013
By monitoring the behavior of a class of cells in the brains of living mice, neuroscientists at Johns Hopkins discovered that these cells remain highly dynamic in the adult brain, where they transform into cells that insulate ...

Recommended for you

Researchers devise decoy molecule to block pain where it starts

January 16, 2018
For anyone who has accidentally injured themselves, Dr. Zachary Campbell not only sympathizes, he's developing new ways to blunt pain.

Scientists unleash power of genetic data to identify disease risk

January 16, 2018
Massive banks of genetic information are being harnessed to shed new light on modifiable health risks that underlie common diseases.

Blood-vessel-on-a-chip provides insight into new anti-inflammatory drug candidate

January 15, 2018
One of the most important and fraught processes in the human body is inflammation. Inflammatory responses to injury or disease are crucial for recruiting the immune system to help the body heal, but inflammation can also ...

Molecule produced by fat cells reduces obesity and diabetes in mice

January 15, 2018
UC San Francisco researchers have discovered a new biological pathway in fat cells that could explain why some people with obesity are at high risk for metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes. The new findings—demonstrated ...

Obese fat becomes inflamed and scarred, which may make weight loss harder

January 12, 2018
The fat of obese people becomes distressed, scarred and inflamed, which can make weight loss more difficult, research at the University of Exeter has found.

Optimized human peptide found to be an effective antibacterial agent

January 11, 2018
A team of researchers in the Netherlands has developed an effective antibacterial ointment based on an optimized human peptide. In their paper published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, the group describes developing ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.