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Myelin repair factors

Apr. 19, 2016, 9:00 AM

(iStock)

In demyelinating diseases such as multiple sclerosis, damage to the myelin sheath that covers nerve axons is the main cause of neurological disabilities. The protein IL-33 is made by the body in response to viruses, and the synthetic compound poly-IC – which mimics virus RNA – is known to induce IL-33 production.

Drawing from earlier observations, Subramaniam Sriram, MBBS, and colleagues explored the activities of poly-IC and IL-33 as agents to promote myelination and myelin repair.

Reporting March 29 in the journal PLOS ONE, they show that addition of poly-IC or IL-33 to cultured cells induces the production of myelin and promotes maturation of myelin progenitor cells. Treatment of animals with poly-IC following the chemical injury of myelin-forming cells resulted in rapid remyelination of the injured area.

These findings suggest that poly-IC and IL-33 are likely to be attractive therapeutic agents for use in human demyelinating disease.

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