University of Edinburgh & GSK collaboration aims to tackle myelin regeneration

Published: 4 November 2014

University of Edinburgh researchers are joining forces with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to conduct drug discovery research that could be used to develop new treatments for brain diseases.

The collaboration will focus on regenerating the protective myelin sheath around nerve cells that can be damaged during brain injury or demyelination (eg Multiple sclerosis) and lead to brain complications.

The collaboration – facilitated by Edinburgh BioQuarter’s Business Development team – will run for two years from January 2015. Work will be carried out on the Edinburgh BioQuarter site as well as at GSK.

Scientists from the Medical Research Council (MRC) Centre for Regenerative Medicine at the University have developed a laboratory model of myelin regeneration. It enables drug developers to test new drugs for their effect on diseases where myelin regeneration is important.

Lead investigator from the MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine at the University, Dr Anna Williams, said: “We are excited to work with GSK to develop an improved laboratory model of brain repair, which we hope we can then use to accelerate the development of new treatments for diseases where myelin regeneration is important.”

Oligodendrocytes are the cells in the brain and spinal cord that produce myelin which wraps around nerves and allows them to conduct electricity faster and protects them from damage – similar to the insulation on wires. Myelin can be damaged in brain and spinal cord injuries and several neurological diseases and the research aims to improve the ability of the oligodendrocytes to regenerate this myelin, and help patients recover function.

About the MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine

The MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine (CRM) is a world leading research centre based at the University of Edinburgh. Scientists and clinicians at CRM study stem cells, disease and tissue repair to advance human health. The Centre is based at the Scottish Centre for Regenerative Medicine (SCRM) building, on a site shared by the Royal Infirmary Hospital and the University's Clinical Research facilities. With new state-of-the-art facilities and a 230+ team of scientists and clinicians, CRM is positioned uniquely to translate scientific knowledge to industry and the clinic.

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