Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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All Wrapped Up

Insight into the remyelination process and how to encourage it for treating neuronal disease like multiple sclerosis

05 October 2020

All Wrapped Up

Much of what happens in our cells is the result of chain reactions – proteins collide and change, perhaps hurtling one towards the nucleus where it switches another 'on' or 'off' … it’s like a very, very small domino show. Such signalling cascades are often involved in many different processes at once, and drugs aiming to intervene – changing the way the biological dominos fall – require careful design. Here nerve cells (neurons, shown as bunched-up blobs in this cross section of a spinal cord), are wrapped in a fatty substance called myelin (dark outlines) which helps neurons to conduct impulses quickly and efficiently. Injury to nerve cells requires re-myelination – a healing process driven by a signalling cascade which can be hampered by age and conditions like multiple sclerosis. Recently researchers discovered a chemical called theophylline interferes in the cascade that blocks re-myelination, potentially helping neurons 'heal' in new treatments for neuronal disease.

Written by John Ankers

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