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PI: Baron, W

University Medical Center Groningen

The myelin group

The research of the myelin group is directed to the potential development of remyelination-based therapy for multiple sclerosis (M.S.). M.S. is a disease of the central nervous system characterized by breakdown of the myelin sheath. This sheath surrounds the nerve axon to confer electrical insulation and fast signaling along the nerve.

The group has set as its primary goal to characterize the trafficking (intracellular transport) of myelin proteins to their place of destination, the myelin sheath, and the role played by various lipids in this process. We study this complicated but highly important process in isolated oligodendrocytes from newborn rats. Oligodendrocytes, when grown in culture, are able to develop numerous processes, which become interconnected by a web-like structure or sheet. This sheet contains all myelin components, which are expressed in a developmentally regulated order, and the expression of which is subject to regulation by a variety of growth factors and signaling proteins. The mechanism of transport of myelin proteins, as well as proteins which play a role in the attachment of myelin to the axon, is presently a major topic.

As remyelination is morphologically identical to developmental myelination, we are interested in the effect of growth and adhesion factors on oligodendrocyte behaviour during different developmental stages. Recently, another research line was started which uses insoluble or cross-linked antibodies to mimic ligand binding. These antibodies are directed against either lipid components of the myelin sheath or proteins playing a role in the signaling environment. Thus, we hope to interfere with signaling pathways directing myelin (re)formation. An example is given below, where an antibody against sulfatide, one of the typical myelin sphingoglycolipids, is used.

Last modified:January 27, 2015 16:50