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Compound protects myelin, nerve fibers

Compound protects myelin, nerve fibers
Science
A compound developed at Oregon Health & Science University appears to protect nerve fibers and the fatty sheath, called myelin, that covers nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.

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The discovery, published in the Journal of Neuroimmunology, could be important in treating or preventing the progression of multiple sclerosis and other central nervous system disorders. The new research in a mouse model advances earlier work to develop the compound -- known as sobetirome -- that has already showed promise in stimulating the repair of myelin.

Nerve fibers carry electrical impulses between nerve cells, and myelin is an insulation-like protective sheath covering nerve fibers.

Myelin and nerve fibers become damaged in multiple sclerosis, slowing or blocking electrical signals required for us to see, move our muscles, feel sensations and think. Researchers previously developed sobetirome as a compound that mimics the effect of the thyroid hormone in stimulating the maturation of precursor cells known as oligodendrocytes, which generate myelin. OHSU scientists developed a strategy to greatly increase the delivery of sobetirome into the brain of mice -- remyelinating nerve fiber sheaths after damage had occurred.

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In the new research, scientists tested the compound by inducing an autoimmune disease in a mouse model of MS, causing inflammation damage to myelin and nerve fibers.

Lead author Priya Chaudhary, M.D., assistant professor of neurology in the OHSU School of Medicine who is focused on developing therapies for neurodegenerative diseases, said that the technique is a common step in drug discovery.

"It is important to show the effectiveness of potential drugs in a model that is most commonly used for developing new therapies," Chaudhary said.

The researchers discovered that they were able to prevent damage to myelin and nerve fibers from occurring, by stimulating a protective response in the cells that make and maintain myelin. They also reduced the activity of migroglia, a type of inflammatory cell in the brain and spinal cord that s involved in causing damage in multiple sclerosis and other diseases.

"The effects are impressive and are at least in part consistent with a neuroprotective effect with particular inhibition of myelin and axon degeneration, and oligodendrocyte loss," the authors write.

The discovery, if proven in clinical trials involving people, could be especially useful for people who are diagnosed with multiple sclerosis early in the disease s progression.

"The drug could protect the nervous system from damage and reduce the severity of the disease," Bourdette said.

Materials provided by . Original written by Erik Robinson. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Oregon Health & Science University. "Compound protects myelin, nerve fibers: Research could be important in treating, preventing progression of multiple sclerosis, other neurodegenerative diseases." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 January 2021. .

Oregon Health & Science University. "Compound protects myelin, nerve fibers: Research could be important in treating, preventing progression of multiple sclerosis, other neurodegenerative diseases." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/01/210113144424.htm (accessed January 13, 2021).

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Apr. 18, 2019 — A new study shows that a synthetic molecule stimulates repair of the protective sheath that covers nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. The study demonstrates in mice that a synthetic molecule ...

Feb. 14, 2018 — Nerve fibers are surrounded by a myelin sheath. Scientists have now made the first-ever live observations of how this protective layer is ...

Dec. 1, 2016 — Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease in which the body s immune system attacks the patient s own cells. In this case, modified T cells destroy the myelin sheath surrounding nerve ...
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