December 19, 2018 (Medical News Today)
New research has discovered a previously unknown mechanism that could be blocking myelin repair in individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS).
A distinct feature of MS includes continued damage of myelin, the protective coating that surrounds nerve fibers. Oligodendrocytes are cells that make myelin coating. A newly understood mechanism, however, interferes with the process in which progenitor cells become oligodendrocytes, thus not allowing for the repair of mylein. Instead, it effectively puts progenitor cells in an inactive state known as quiescence.
In a study paper, now published in Cell Reports, researchers have uncovered that the driver of this faulty mechanism is a protein called “Paired Related Homeobox Protein 1” or PRRX1.
When researchers “turned on” the gene that codes for PRRX1, it stopped oligodendrocyte formation, which as the researchers note are “responsible for all myelin regeneration in the adult brain.”
This new information may lead scientists to develop an MS drug that stop progenitors from going dormant and allow for repair of myelin, and help reduce symptoms felt by those with MS.