khanThe Wayne State University Division of Research announces that Omar Khan, (pictured right) MD, professor and chair of neurology at the Wayne State University School of Medicine, has initiated a new study focused on “remyelination in the brain.” The university notes in a recent news release that the new approach targets remyelination in the central nervous system using a humanized monoclonal antibody that binds to semaphoring 4D, a member of the semaphorin family of proteins and reportedly a key mediator of axonal growth cone guidance.

Researchers add that semaphorin-induced signaling has also been shown to induce growth cone collapse of neurons and apoptosis of neural precursors, and to induce process extension collapse and apoptosis of oligodendrocytes. Semaphorins consist of a family of soluble and membrane-bound proteins that play important roles in establishing precise connections between neurons and their appropriate targets.

“This is a paradigm shift and the start of the next generation of therapies to treat multiple sclerosis that will change its focus to repair rather than inflammation,” Khan says.

The release states that restoring the myelin sheathing is the primary goal of Khan’s study. If the study is successful, Khan says, it will lead to large scale studies with the molecule targeting remyelination in the brain as its primary focus, detected by advanced imaging techniques such as magnetization transfer ratio.

“The real challenge will be to reverse or reduce conduction blocks in the demyelinated nerve that may translate into neurologic improvement,” Khan adds.

According to the university, it is home to the only MS center in Michigan and among 10 sites in the world undertaking the translational initiative. Khan states that it is humbling to lead the effort and that Wayne State University is one of the few centers in the world that are participating in “this next generation translation research. The patients are observed overnight at Harper University Hospital, which has been a great partner in facilitating this research endeavor,” Khan says.

Photo Credit: Wayne State University Division of Research

Source: Wayne State University Division of Research