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Investigating the Mechanisms of Remyelination

Researchers here uncover a potential drug target to spur the remyelination of nerves. Accelerated degradation of the myelin sheathing required for correct nervous system function underlies a range of medical conditions, including multiple sclerosis. Evidence suggests that everyone suffers demyelination to a lesser degree over the course of aging, however, and that this may contribute towards the noticeable loss of cognitive function that occurs in even the fittest of older people. So it is worth keeping an eye on progress towards methods of restoring myelin:

In vertebrates, axons extending from nerve cells are covered by insulating sheets called the myelin sheath, made with the cell membranes of oligodendrocytes, enabling fast electrical signaling through saltatory conduction. Normally, myelin is repaired, even if damaged, but the mechanism that controls remyelination was not well understood. In addition, in demyelinating diseases such as multiple sclerosis, the myelin sheath does not recover from damage and gets worse, finally leading to symptoms such as vision loss, limb numbness, and movement disorders.

Researchers performed a detailed examination of the remyelinating process of damaged myelin using disease model mice. Their results show that a growth factor called pleiotrophin is secreted from nerve axons injured by demyelination, and this pleiotrophin inhibits the function of the receptor molecule PTPRZ of oligodendrocyte precursor cells, stimulating cellular differentiation into oligodendrocytes which form the myelin sheath, thereby promoting remyelination.

This achievement shows that it is possible to encourage the regeneration of the myelin sheath by inhibiting the action of PTPRZ in endogenous oligodendrocyte precursor cells, indicating a new potential treatment for demyelinating diseases. "This was made possible by establishing oligodendrocyte precursor cell lines. Pleiotrophin is an endogenous PTPRZ inhibitor, but if synthetic PTPRZ inhibitors were obtained, then effective treatments for multiple sclerosis should become possible. We are currently directing our research in that direction".

Link: http://www.nibb.ac.jp/en/pressroom/news/2015/09/03.html

Comments

"degredation"... Reason...

Anyway, while remyelinating neurons is of special interest to me because MS runs in my family, the thing I find most interesting is that a Japanese team has done this one.

Where has Japan been this whole time? Why don't a heck of a lot more of the articles on this site feature achievements from Japanese research organizations? They've been conspicuous by their absence at this point. Of all the countries in the world, Japan is the one most demographically in need of rejuvenative treatments. Maybe it's a cultural thing, maybe the stigma against interfering with aging is greater over there- but mathematically, they absolutely need functional life extension.

Posted by: Slicer at September 7th, 2015 10:53 AM

@Slicer: Fixed.

I'd guess higher language barriers are the issue here. There is the same issue with Chinese research. It isn't that it isn't going on, it is that comparatively little of it is translated, and vice versa going the other way.

Posted by: Reason at September 7th, 2015 11:36 AM

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