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