Research highlight

The myelin fix

Nature Medicine

July 4, 2011

The upregulation of the death receptor 6 (DR6), in the brain could be inhibiting brain repair in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). These results, published online this week in Nature Medicine, could potentially lead to new a therapeutic approach for multiple sclerosis.In multiple sclerosis, patients exhibit massive demyelination—where the protective layer on axons is damaged—which is one of the reasons for the neurological dysfunction that characterizes the disease. Sha Mi and colleagues found that DR6 was upregulated in brain tissue from those who suffered from MS. The authors found similar results in a rat model of the disease. They believe that DR6 seems to act by killing off immature oligodendrocytes—support cells in the brain—that could otherwise repair the damaged myelin. By using antibodies to block DR6 in the rat model of MS, they find that oligodendrocytes could repair the myelin and ameliorate neurological dysfunction.

doi: 10.1038/nm.2373

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