Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada

Funded Research

Role and Therapeutic Potential of Neuregulin-1 in Multiple Sclerosis

Year Awarded: 2020

Term: 3 years

Funding Amount: $399,400

Affiliation(s): University of Manitoba

Province(s): Manitoba

Researcher(s): Dr. Soheila Karimi

Impact Goal(s): Advance Treatment and Care

Background: Many of the current disease modifying medications are ineffective at preventing progressive neurodegeneration in multiple sclerosis (MS). The lack of regenerative therapies highlights the need to develop new treatments that can promote repair of damaged myelin—the protective coating surrounding nerve fibres which is targeted by the immune system in MS—in order to prevent permanent nerve damage.

Overview: This research focuses on Neuregulin (Nrg-1), a growth factor that is normally present in the body, important for the formation and maintenance of myelin. Previous research found that dysregulation of the factor, Nrg-1, in demyelinating lesions and in plasma of mice with MS-like disease (i.e. experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis or EAE mice) may underlie the imbalanced immune response and sub-optimal remyelination. The researchers previously verified that Nrg-1 declined in active MS demyelinating plaques and in plasma of people with early MS. Studies in EAE mice show that Nrg-1 therapy fosters a pro-regenerative immune response that promotes repair and neurological recovery. This research will investigate the role and potential of Nrg-1 as a new immunomodulatory and regenerative therapy for MS.

Impact: Currently available therapies for MS often suppress the immune response to slow down disease progression or worsening, but lack effective repair strategies to renew myelin and protect damaged nerve fibres in MS lesions. This research strives to develop much needed regenerative therapies for individuals with MS to mitigate the progressive neurodegeneration. Notably, Neuregulin-1 is a drug already approved by the US FDA that has been shown to be safe and if effective for MS, could be re-purposed.

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