January 30, 2004
Boston Cure Project
One of the major things that we still don't understand about MS is how myelin sheaths get damaged in the course of the disease. One hypothesis is that the proteins that help provide structural integrity are flawed, but so far genetic studies of myelin proteins have not produced much evidence for this. Since lipids also contribute to myelin structure and make up 80% of the mass of myelin, one group of researchers is investigating the possibility that lipid changes in myelin sheaths lead to demyelination. As described in this recent paper, these scientists used multiple techniques to analyze the lipid composition of myelin in EAE samples, and using a model confirmed that these alterations can affect the adhesion, curvature and structure of the myelin sheath. How these lipid alterations come about in the first place is still unknown, but once this is understood it could lead to new therapeutic avenues.
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