Oligodendrocytes are the myelinating cells of the CNS that enable formation of myelin and saltatory nerve conduction. In Multiple Sclerosis (MS), the most common cause of neurological disability in young adults, myelin sheaths are lost through injury or death of mature oligodendrocytes (OL) as a result of autoimmune damage. White matter disorders are also associated with human newborn neurological injuries leading to Cerebral palsy (CP). CP complicates over 3.3/1000 live births in the United States and the incidence of this devastating condition is on the rise due to the increasing rates of survival of very low birth weight premature infants. In these conditions, myelin sheaths can be regenerated by oligodendrocyte progenitors (OLP) that are recruited to lesions and differentiate in a process called remyelination. But evidence suggests that myelin repair often fails in these diseases and this inhibition of remyelination contributes significantly to ongoing neurological dysfunction, axonal loss and disease progression. In order to understand the regulatory factors relevant in human myelin disorders, it is first critical to understand the cellular mechanisms regulating developmental myelination and the remyelination repair process following injury. My lab is a developmental biology lab, with a disease/injury repair orientation, and access to human developmental brain and MS tissue.
Major Mechanistic and Translational goals:(1) identification of novel factors critical to murine developmental myelination, a questioning of their recapitulation in adult murine remyelination, and validation in human pathological white matter injury tissue (2) gaining a greater understanding of the human white matter lesion as a dysregulated repair environment, and why myelin repair fails in human demyelinating injuries (3) identification and testing of therapeutics to promote repair in human white matter injury.