Researchers Identify a Novel Molecule that Enhances Production of Myelin-Forming Cells in the Brain

Promising new research by Dr. Anastassia Voronova (University of Alberta) and colleagues provide evidence for the role of an immunological molecule called fractalkine in instructing neural stem cells to become oligodendrocytes – the only cells in the brain with the ability to produce myelin.

Using cell-based assays and mice, researchers showed that fractalkine accelerates the differentiation of neural stem cells to oligodendrocytes in different brain regions. Additionally, inhibition of fractalkine signaling diminishes oligodendrocyte production and myelination.

Currently there are limited treatment options for progressive MS, particularly those that promote brain and spinal cord regeneration and restoration of damaged myelin (a process called remyelination). The present study suggests that fractalkine could act as a candidate molecule to engage neural stem cells to enhance the production of oligodendrocytes and potentially remyelination. Further characterization of this molecule may inform the development of remyelination and regeneration treatments for MS.


The scientific article was published in Stem Cell Reportslink.

For more information on Dr. Voronova’s MS Society funded research, please click here.