Do myelin-producing cells that ‘ingest’ slow down myelin repair?

Ms Natalie King

Menzies Institute for Medical Research, University of Tasmania, TAS

| A cure via repair and regeneration | Cures for MS via repair and regeneration | Neurobiology | Incubator | 2023 | Investigator Led Research |


In people with MS, the insulating, protective layer around nerves known as myelin, is attacked by the immune system. Although myelin can be repaired, individuals with MS experience a loss of myelin repair capacity in certain cells called oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (OPCs), and the exact cause of this impairment is not fully understood. 

It has recently been discovered that OPCs play a role in shaping connections between brain cells, in addition to producing myelin. They achieve this by a process called phagocytosis, which involves 'eating' the connection points between nerve cells to ensure proper nerve connections. However, it is possible that OPCs engaged in phagocytosis may not be able to generate myelin and contribute to repair in MS. 

Ms Natalie King and her team are investigating whether OPCs that undergo phagocytosis can still produce myelin. Additionally, they aim to determine if a specific molecule on OPCs can influence their ability to engage in phagocytosis. By unravelling these mechanisms, they hope to uncover the factors that hinder myelin repair in MS and find new ways to guide OPCs towards generating myelin, thus promoting brain repair in individuals with MS. 

Updated: 30 August, 2023

Stages of the research process

Fundamental laboratory

Laboratory research that investigates scientific theories behind the possible causes, disease progression, ways to diagnose and better treat MS.

Lab to clinic timeline: 10+ years

Research that builds on fundamental scientific research to develop new therapies, medical procedures or diagnostics and advances it closer to the clinic.

Lab to clinic timeline: 5+ years
Clinical Studies
and Clinical Trials

Clinical research is the culmination of fundamental and translational research turning those research discoveries into treatments and interventions for people with MS.

Lab to clinic timeline: 1-5 years


Menzies Institute for Medical Research, TAS 

Total Funding

  • $24,565


  • 1 year – starting 2023

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Do myelin-producing cells that ‘ingest’ slow down myelin repair?