Non-invasively Promoting Repair and Attenuating Disease Progression in MS - Moving Toward Translation
Year Awarded: 2022
Term: 3 years
Funding Amount: $300,000
Affiliation(s): University of Saskatchewan
Researcher(s): Dr. Valerie M. K. Verge
Impact Goal(s): Understand and Halt Disease Progression
- There is a need for targeted therapies that can enhance repair of myelin, the protective coating surrounding nerve fibres that can become damaged or lost in people with MS.
- Dr. Verge and team will use a non-invasive therapy called acute intermittent hypoxia or AIH, where intermittent periods of reduced oxygen are delivered to preclinical mouse models of MS in order to promote repair and improve functional outcomes.
- Findings from this research will fulfill an unmet need of developing therapeutics that can induce repair to alter the disease course in MS.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is characterized by the loss of myelin on nerve fibres (axons). The body has biological mechanisms for myelin repair, but targeted therapies that enable this process to occur and alter the MS disease course are largely lacking. Dr. Verge and team are using a non-invasive therapy that they have previously shown to have significant potential for improving repair and functional outcomes in preclinical models of peripheral nerve and spinal cord injury, including remyelination. They discovered that the capacity of the nervous system to repair itself can be greatly enhanced by imposing a low level of beneficial stress. This therapy is called acute intermittent hypoxia (AIH; 10-15 cycles of intermittent periods of reduced oxygen). Using a female mouse model of MS, the researchers found that AIH significantly improves repair, diminishes inflammation and improves function when delivered at near peak disease. The current project will continue to examine AIH’s capacity for repair and improved functional outcomes in male mice in addition to females. They will assess the number and timing of AIH treatments that will optimally alter disease progression and prevent disability in both sexes. The team also aims to determine the mechanisms by which AIH exerts its beneficial effects.
AIH, as a non-invasive treatment, has the potential to enhance remyelination strategies, protect demyelinated axons, and slow disease progression. If successful in pre-clinical models, this research will provide a better understanding of AIH as a potential treatment option for people living with MS that can induce repair to alter the disease course.
Project Status: Ongoing