Protein That Promotes Brain Tissue Damage In MS Identified

shutterstock_145005193Multiple sclerosis is one of those diseases where a cure still eludes researchers. In the absence of a cure, researchers have been working to understand the disease more. Along the way, researchers are able to discover different ways to treat the disease. In a recent study, researchers discover a type of protein that may become a potentially new therapeutic target for treating the said disease.

Researchers from the Center for Neuroscience Research at Children’s National Health System have discovered a type of protein that inhibits the repair of myelin. Damaged myelin is a common characteristic of multiple sclerosis. The protein, called Endothelin-1 or ET-1, may become a potential therapeutic target for enabling the repair of myelin after the onset of MS.

Even while individuals may suffer from MS, the brain is still able to produce new cells to repair the damage from the disease. In many cases, these cells are unable to complete the repair process, which researchers attribute to unknown factors. Current MS therapies can be effective in treating relapsing MS, but they do not promote the repair of damaged tissue. The discovery of ET-1 may help researchers not only reduce the deterioration of tissue damage in the brain, but also help promote their repair.

Repair of the damaged brain tissue are carried out by the endogenous oligodendrocyte progenitor cells or OPC’s during remyelination. Previous studies have shown that OPC’s fail to differentiate between healthy cells and chronic MS lesions. The study has shown that ET-1 inhibits the repair of myelin in the nerve cells. By blocking the ET-1 protein via a genetic or pharmacological approach, it is possible to promote myelin repair. Targeting this protein will involve identifying the signals that can promote lesion repair in the cells.

According to Vittorio Gallo, PhD, Director of the Center for Neuroscience Research at Children’s National Health System, “We demonstrate that ET-1 drastically reduces the rate of remyelination.”  The protein ET-1 could have an impact preventing normal myelination in MS and in other demyelinating diseases. Making it a potential therapeutic target can promote remyelination in damaged tissue as a result of MS. Findings of the study were published in the journal Neuron.

Source: Children’s National Medical Center. (2014, February 7). Protein to repair damaged brain tissue in MS identified. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 13, 2014 from


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