Dejerine-Sottas

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Movies Reveal That the Process of Insulating Nerves Is Surprisingly Dynamic

November 15, 2006

The first time lapse movies of the initial stage of the process that wraps nerve fibers with an outer, insulating layer, published online on Nov. 12 in the journal Nature Neuroscience, are shedding new light on this complex process and should aid in the design of new therapies to promote this protective layer following disease or injury.
RedGreenOPCs_jpeg.jpgAn image of the spinal cord of a living zebrafish embryo captures two oligodendrocyte progenitor cells, labeled in red and green fluorescent protein, during the period in development when they are spacing themselves along newly formed axons.
Much like the electrical wiring in your house, the nerves in your body need to be completely covered by a layer of insulation to work properly.
Instead of red, white or black plastic, however, the wiring in the nervous system is protected by layers of an insulating protein called myelin. These layers increase the speed that nerve impulses travel throughout the brain and the body. The critical role they play is dramatically illustrated by the symptoms of multiple sclerosis, which is caused by lesions that destroy myelin. These include: blindness, muscle weakness and paralysis, loss of coordination, stuttering, pain and burning sensations, impotence, memory loss, depression and dementia.
The formation of myelin sheaths during development requires a complex choreography generally considered to be one of nature’s most spectacular examples of the interaction between different kinds of cells. Now, a group of Vanderbilt researchers has successfully produced movies that provide the first direct view of the initial stage of this process: the period when the cells that ultimately produce the myelin sheathing spread throughout the developing nervous system. The results were published online in the journal Nature Neuroscience on Nov. 12 and should aid in the design of new therapies to promote the repair of this protective layer following disease or injury.

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USC Researchers Closer To Cure For Multiple Sclerosis And Other Myelin-Related Diseases

November 5, 2006

Los Angeles – A breakthrough finding on the mechanism of myelin formation by Jonah Chan, assistant professor of cell and neurobiology at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California, could have a major impact on the treatment of diseases such as multiple sclerosis and demyelination as a result of spinal cord injuries.
Myelin, the white matter that coats all nerves, allows long-distance communication in the nervous system. “It plays a vital role in the overall health and function of the nervous system, and its degeneration plays a role in a number of diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, peripheral neuropathies, and even in spinal cord injury,” Chan explained.

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