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Novel approaches to central nervous system white matter repair

Principal Investigator:
  • Freda Miller, University of Toronto
Team Members:
  • David Kaplan, University of Toronto
  • Wolfram Tetzlaff, University of British Columbia
  • Samuel Weiss, University of Calgary

Project Overview

Many nerve cells in the body are covered with a protective sheath known as myelin, which allows fast conduction of nerve impulses, and which is produced by two different types of cells called oligodendrocytes and Schwann cells. Demyelination occurs when this protective covering is destroyed, resulting in impaired nerve function. While demyelination is most closely associated with Multiple Sclerosis, it is also implicated in other neurological and psychiatric conditions such as schizophrenia and spinal cord injuries. The term white matter is used to describe areas of the brain and spinal cord that contain many myelinated nerve fibres, and it is the white matter that is responsible for information transmission in the body.

The goal of this project was to attempt to repair these damaged, demyelinated nerve cells using a stem cell-based approach. In this team’s research, oligodendrocyte and Schwann cell stem cells was transplanted into an injured spinal cord in order to see if remyelination and subsequent improved nerve function will result.