Friday, 25 November 2011

Myelin imaging

Epub ahead of printFrullano et al. Myelin Imaging Compound (MIC)-enhanced Magnetic Resonance Imaging of Myelination. J Med Chem. 2011 Nov 18.

The mammalian nervous system is characterized by myelination, a fundamental biological process that protects the nerve processes of axons and facilitates the transmission of electrical pulses. 

Damage to myelin is considered the major problem in MS. Currently, therapeutic interventions are focused on protecting myelin integrity and promoting myelin repair. These efforts need to be accompanied by an effective imaging tool that correlates the disease progression with the extent of myelination. 


To date, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is the primary imaging technique to detect brain lesions in MS. However, conventional MRI cannot differentiate demyelinated lesions from other inflammatory lesions, and therefore cannot predict disease progression in MS. 

To address this problem, these investigators prepared a gadolinium-based contrast agent, termed MIC that binds to myelin with high specificity. 

MIC was useful for imaging of myelination in the rat brain.

MIC was found to distribute preferentially in highly myelinated regions and was able to detect regions of focally induced demyelination.

"This is an unmet need; we need imaging techniques to assess treatments that are targeting myelination. This will allow us to assess whether or not they are effective in early clinical trials."

10 comments:

  1. Reading the posts, it seems clear that the longer a person has lived with MS, the harder it is to medically help them because the damage becomes to much.

    I mean, will people like Debbie Purdy or Charles Fox, who have endured MS for decades, benefit from treatments that target myelintion?

    MS is such a riddle of a disease.

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  2. Anonymous

    Once the nerves have gone then there are no nerves left to remyelinate. The strategy is to prevent the nerves from dying with neuroprotectants so they are capable of remyelination. This will be the next big move in MS.

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  3. Prof G, have you heard about the dutch disabled woman who has all of a sudden regained the use of her legs after an accident. It was reported on last night's BBC and Channel 4 news.

    Here is the link - http://www.channel4.com/news/miracle-cyclist-rides-again


    What do you think is going on here? Is it spontaneous remyelination?

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  4. Re: "What do you think is going on here? Is it spontaneous remyelination?"

    Difficult to comment without seeing all the details of the case, particularly the neurological investigations. As this was meant to be a traumatic paraplegia she should have damage her nerves and there would have been scar tissue. Another possibility is a condition called somatisation disorder; this is a psychiatric condition in which there is no damage to nervous system but due to psychological factors patients develop neurological symptoms. Bottom line is I don't think this lady's recovery is due to remyelination.

    Whatever the diagnosis; I am very happy for her. I wish this would happen to MS'ers with long-standing disabilities.

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  5. Wow! Thanks for the link Anonymous.

    It's a miracle! I too support Prof G's wish to see such a miracle happen in an MS'er, preferably me!

    This new story really cheered me up and I'm ever so happy for Monique van der Vorst. I'm going to Amsterdam for a lads weekend next month and hope some of that Dutch luck rubs off on me too!

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  6. Re - "Another possibility is a condition called somatisation disorder; this is a psychiatric condition in which there is no damage to nervous system but due to psychological factors patients develop neurological symptoms."

    I don't buy that argument Prof G. Monique van der Vorst is an Olympic athlete. For some one who pushes herself so hard it's unthinkable she could have thought herself disabled and thus acted that way.

    I've had a disabling relapse but I'm good now. Is something similar happening with Monique van der Vorst? I'm not saying that she has MS, but could her nervous system have repaired itself the way mine did?

    It just goes to show that science doesn't always have all the explanations.

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  7. I was a MS meeting last week and I saw an example of someone being wheelchair bound and then walking. It was the dedicated work of the MSer, the neuros, the health services and careful selection of their drugs and treatments.

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  8. Re 'unthinkable she could have thought herself disabled and thus acted that way'-
    Why not? Athletes are human too and they can have deep psychological problems that cause physical symptoms. And they are not acting in such cases. The physical problems are real. They really are in pain, they really cannot see, or cannot walk, etc.

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  9. Staining myelin: If it ever reaches humans, does this mean that drug trials should be repeated in order to re-evaluate their efficiency in reducing relevant MRI activity?

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  10. Vv. If safe in humans it is unlikely that old drugs would be investigated especially as there is no mechanistic reason why these drugs would remyelinate. This could occur as part of repair as a consequence of highly effective immunosuppression.
    It is unlikely we will go backwards but science often spirals to layer above past experience.

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