How can we stop MS progression?

Dr Jessica Fletcher

Menzies Institute for Medical Research, University of Tasmania, TAS

| A cure via repair and regeneration | Neurobiology | Fellowship | 2024 | Investigator Led Research |


In people living with MS, the coating around nerves, called myelin, is attacked by the immune system. Myelin can be repaired by cells called oligodendrocytes that survive the immune attack or by recruiting support cells called oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (OPCs). However, in people living with MS, OPCs and surviving oligodendrocytes lose their ability to repair myelin and we do not understand why.

Dr Jessica Fletcher will take four approaches to learn why OPCs and oligodendrocytes no longer make myelin in MS:

  1. She will mimic the failure of OPCs and oligodendrocytes to repair in a laboratory model. She will then try to overcome this by stimulating OPCs and oligodendrocytes to make new myelin using an external signal that we know promotes myelin repair.
  2. She will look at what happens inside oligodendrocytes when they make myelin. By doing this, she will identify targeted ways to push these cells to make new myelin in MS.
  3. OPCs do other things besides make myelin. OPCs can also eat brain connections – the point between two nerves. Dr Fletcher will see if OPCs that eat connections can still make myelin. If they do not, this may be a reason they stop making myelin in MS.
  4. Dr Fletcher’s team has studied families with an extremely high incidence of MS to identify genes that could contribute to MS progression. She will determine the role of these genes in the development of MS by using the cells donated by these families and making them into distinct types of brain cells.

By identifying why myelin repair fails in MS, Dr Fletcher and her team will build the knowledge base essential for the development and translation of effective brain repair treatments.

Updated: 22 January, 2024

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


Dr Jessica Fletcher


Professor Kaylene Young

Total Funding

  • $225,000

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How can we stop MS progression?