Monthly Archives: March 2014

MS Society-funded researchers lead the pack in myelin repair research

MS researchers recognize that myelin repair following a relapse or ‘attack’ is the key to preventing disease progression and irreversible disability. With many people living with progressive MS, and many others facing the real possibility of secondary progression, the need for understanding the mechanisms of myelin repair and stimulating these processes becomes critically important.

Over the last year, three published studies supported by the MS Society of Canada brought us closer to knowing if, how, and when repair takes place in MS. Dr. Jack Antel from McGill University demonstrated that oligodendrocyte precursor cells are a likely source of new, healthy myelin in MS following an attack. His research also showed that the precursor cells are prone to harm in the MS lesion environment which could account for the limited myelin repair observed in certain individuals with MS. Another repair study led by MS Society postdoctoral fellowship recipient Dr. Veronique Miron showed that certain immune cells can trigger myelin repair. One such example is the macrophage; this cell can exhibit anti-inflammatory properties and releases a compound called activin-A which activates production of myelin. The last study comes from Dr. Rashmi Kothary’s lab in Ottawa. This group identified a number of key molecules which aid in the development of oligodendrocytes, which are the cells that wrap around nerves and generate the myelin sheathe. Overall this body of research provides fundamental knowledge on myelin repair, and paves the way for the development treatments aimed at promoting the repair process to enable the central nervous system to recover function and reduce the risk of entry into progressive MS.

Check out the MS Society Research Summaries to learn more about the research we fund in repair.

Highlights from the 5th Annual Neuroinflammation Symposium

Last week I attended the 5th Annual Neuroinflammation Symposium – an interactive and interdisciplinary series of presentations focused on research in neuroinflammation. Neuroinflammation is a topic very closely related to multiple sclerosis. MS is characterized by the appearance of tissue damage or plaques in the central nervous system. This damage is mainly caused by inflammation, and accounts for symptoms frequently seen in people living with MS: mobility impairment, blurred vision, weakness and spasticity, and cognitive dysfunction.

The Neuroinflammation Symposium is a unique opportunity to assemble scientists and clinicians from around the world in a forum for knowledge sharing and discussion. It also brings in other members of MS community such as myself and students who are keen on pursuing MS research, to come and learn about what is happening in the neuroinflammation field.

This year’s meeting, which took place in Toronto, focused specifically on the mechanism of disease – how MS develops and progresses – as well as novel therapeutic approaches that can control inflammation in people with MS. Here are a few highlights from the presentations.

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