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The Protein That Is Blocking Remyelination in MS Has Been Identified

January 28, 2016

A study done at the University of Cambridge showed that the membrane-bound protein Ephrin B3 blocks the remyelination of damaged neurons in MS.

When myelin sheets around neurons are damaged, precursor cells destined to become myelin-producing oligodendrocytes are activated and migrate to the damaged site. These cells can repair myelin damage to a certain extent in diseases such as MS, but the repair is incomplete.

Earlier studies have shown that in some MS lesions, the cells fail to develop and are not mature enough for remyelination. The effect of the protein was confirmed both in cultured cells and in a rat model of remyelination, with injection of EphrinB3 being seen to block remyelination.

The team found that EphrinB3 altered the rate of myelination generation during development of these mice, without changing the final extent or thickness of the myelin sheets at later stages.

The results showed that EphrinB3 could be a suitable target for the development of new treatment strategies. The protein is easily manipulated by various pharmacological tools, and compounds targeting pathways downstream of EphrinB3 are already in clinical trials.