January 10, 2021

Myelin Repair in Multiple Sclerosis

Myelin Repair in Multiple Sclerosis

In Dr. Arnon Karni’s laboratory, molecules have been found to accelerate the repair processes of the affected myelin in multiple sclerosis (MS).

MS is an autoimmune neurological disease, in which many foci of inflammation are formed in the central nervous system. The inflammation leads to the destruction of the myelin sheaths, to  a death of the cells that produce the myelin- the oligodendrocytes, and eventually to nerve death. Most of the existing treatments today contribute to the prevention or delay of the inflammatory –activity, but there is no treatment that leads to myelin repair and restoration of the tissue damage.

Dr. Arnon Karni’s laboratory has been researching for years the potential of the immune system to protect the nervous system (Neuroprotection), as well as its role in repairing it (Neuroregeneration). The study includes comparing the function of immune cells of MS patients to healthy controls, as well as experiments in animal model for MS – experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE).

 

The study found that Bone Morphogenetic Proteins (BMPs), which are known to inhibit the differentiation of neural stem cells into oligodendrocytes, and thus to inhibit remyelination, are upregulated in MS patients and play a role in the failure of remyelination in MS.The study searched for and found molecules that block BMP-2 and BMP-4 and thus induce myelin repair in the live animal  model of MS- the EAE . In addition to the use of antibodies that neutralize BMP-2  and BMP-4, small molecules that inhibit their activity have also been developed.The small molecules were found to improve the functional status of the sick animals and a reconstruction of myelin was demonstrated. In the early stages of the study, it was supported by the National Science Foundation (ISF) and in the applied research stage, the support was obtained from the Israel Innovation Authority through a KAMIN program

 

The results of the research are currently protected by patents and the commercialization rights of the patents have been licensed to Stem Cell Medicine Ltd., for further development in Dr. Karni’s laboratory together with the senior researcher Dr. Karin Fainberg.The goal of the company and the lab is to define the way the drug will be administered in order to advance to the first clinical trial in humans. Pictured from right: Moshe Ben Hamo, Dr. Arnon Karni,  Dr. Karin Fainberg and Dr. Maya Golan