How does lost nerve cell insulation cause memory problems in MS?

Dr Kalina Makowiecki

Menzies Institute for Medical Research, TAS

| Causes and Prevention | Neurobiology | Incubator | 2021 | Investigator Led Research |
SUPPORT PROJECTS WITH THIS RESEARCH FOCUS

Summary

In the brain, nerve cells form circuits which are re-modelled by life experience, allowing us to learn and remember. The nerve fibres that make up these circuits are insulated by cells called oligodendrocytes, which increase the speed of information transfer. In MS, the immune system causes regions of damage called lesions. In these damaged regions, the insulation is lost, slowing or interrupting the movement of electrical signals within and from the brain. However, it is not known how this loss of insulation influences circuit re-modelling in brain lesions or more generally in the brain regions without lesions. Dr Kalina Makowiecki predicts that insulation loss and lesion formation is not only associated with the slowing of the electrical signal, but with other changes to nerve cells and brain circuit re-modelling that would affect a person’s ability to remember and multitask (cognition). Such changes could underpin the cognitive impairments experienced by the majority of people with MS.

This incubator project is complementary to an ongoing post doctoral fellowship being carried out by Dr Makowiecki, It specifically focuses on using advanced microscopy imaging to monitor what happens to specific cellular structures that form the electrical connections in the brain when insulation is lost. Various laboratory models of insulation loss will be investigated. This will improve our understanding of whether nerve insulation loss can impact brain circuit connections and therefore impair cognition.

Updated 20 January 2021

Updated: 19 January, 2021

Stages of the research process

Fundamental laboratory
Research

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
Translational
Research

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

Investigator

Grant Awarded

  • Incubator Grant

Total Funding

  • $24,998

Duration

  • 1 year

Read More
Associate Professor Anneke Van Der Walt

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How does lost nerve cell insulation cause memory problems in MS?