21 September 2000
A key development in understanding the cause of multiple sclerosis (MS) may offer hope that an effective therapy for the disease may not be that far way.
Professor Richard Reynolds, Head of the Department of Neuroinflammation and Professor of Neurobiology, Department of Integrative and Molecular Neuroscience, Imperial College School of Medicine, discussed the work of his group on the cause of multiple sclerosis at the BA Festival of Science in London last week.
The Reynolds groups work has shown that the mature nervous system contains a large population of cells that have the ability to become oligodendrocytes, cells capable of making myelin. Preliminary experiments suggest that they act like stem cells, in that every time they divide in response to damage, they produce one new precursor cell as well as a new oligodendrocyte. It is this repair process that fails in MS.
Professor Reynolds group was awarded a grant in 1998 to set up a UK-wide tissue bank for the MS Society. Professor Reynolds is Scientific Director of the UK MS Tissue Bank which is housed in the Department of Neuroinflammation at Imperial College School of Medicine.
The Tissue Bank provides a reliable source of post-mortem MS material
for researchers around the UK.