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3D Laboratory Cell Growth System Might Help MS Remyelination Research

April 25, 2017

Scientists have discovered a new way to study the regeneration of myelin, which are nerve coatings whose damage is at the heart of multiple sclerosis (MS).

The new method is through a physical scaffold that allows lab-grown brain cells to grow three-dimensionally. The scaffold could lead to acceleration of researching into regenerative drugs for MS. Marie Bechler, a senior researcher in the Constant laboratory at the MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine in Scotland, explained that the scaffold fibres allow researchers to answer questions about how oligodendrocytes form central nervous system (CNS) myelin sheaths. Oligodendrocytes are cells that wrap their appendages around nerve cells to form myelin.

The scaffold imitates the environment around the cells in the brain and spinal cord. This allows oligodendrocytes to grow without neurons. The scaffold also enables researchers to study the cells under a microscope and to study remyelination processes. It is also makes it possible for researchers to study physical cues and molecular signals that determine how much myelin is formed. It should also help them understand how the oligodendrocytes’ origin in the brain or spinal cord can affect the outcomes of regeneration experiments.