Patients with the relapsing-remitting form of multiple sclerosis often recover previously lost functions such as vision or the ability to walk, and experience symptom-free intervals that sometimes range in the order of years, despite the persistence of demyelinated lesions along their axons. Such a recovery of function after injury to the brain and spinal cord, even in the absence of myelin, is called a remission. Our scientists have found that this remarkable recovery of function is due to a molecular reorganization within the axons such that transmission of nerve signals is restored. The Center’s goal is to induce remissions in all people with injuries to the nervous system. In one set of studies we are investigating the phenomenon of molecular reorganization in multiple sclerosis, particularly the reorganization of sodium channels which serve as molecular batteries in generating and transmitting signals along axons.
Sodium channels (yellow) visualized in Purkinje neurons of the cerebellum in an experimental model of multiple sclerosis