Researchers have reportedly pinpointed a “potentially novel therapeutic target” that may help reduce the rate of deterioration and promote growth of brain cells damaged by multiple sclerosis (MS). Children’s National Medical Center states that in a recent publication of Neuron, Vittorio Gallo, PhD, director of the Center for Neuroscience Research at Children’s National Health System, says a small protein had been identified that can be targeted to promote repair of damaged tissue, with therapeutic potential.

The molecule, known as Endothelin-1 (ET-1), is reported to inhibit repair of myelin. Researchers state blocking ET-1 pharmacologically or using a genetic approach could promote myelin repair. Current MS therapy can be effective in patients with relapsing and remitting MS, Gallos says, yet it may “have little impact in promoting remyelination in tissue.” The release notes that prior studies have shown oliogdendrocytle progenitor cells (OPCs) fail to differentiate in chronic MS lesions. To target ET-1, the process will involve identifying signals in cells that could promote lesion repair.

Gallo says the study demonstrates that ET-1 drastically reduces the rate of remyelination, and may play a “crucial role in preventing normal myelination in MS and in other demyelinating diseases.”

Source: Children’s National Medical Center