Promise shown in multiple sclerosis research with high throughput myelination assay

AMSBIO reports how, using its Mimetix® aligned 3D cell culture scaffold, researchers at the MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine, University of Edinburgh (UK) have created a high throughput myelination assay that shows great promise as a model for research into Multiple Sclerosis.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a demyelinating disease in which the insulating covers of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord are damaged. MS is a debilitating neurological condition that affects 2.5 million patients worldwide, 100,000 in the UK with 200 new cases diagnosed each week in the US.  There are currently 142 ongoing MS drug trials to produce products for a market worth $19 billion annually.

Mimetix® scaffolds mimic an extracellular matrix by providing an ideal architectural environment to support the growth of cells in 3D. They are created by electrospinning the medical-grade polymer poly(L-lactide) (PLLA) into microfibres, which are highly consistent with regard to fibre diameter and pore size, resulting in excellent reproducibility of cell-based assays.

Mimetix® Aligned microfiber scaffolds provide a physical structure for the 3D culture of cells from tissues such as the central nervous system, skeletal muscle and heart where orientation influences cell growth and behavior. The Mimetix® scaffold is incorporated into standard SBS footprint well plate frames (96- and 384) with bases of superior optical clarity and minimal base distortion. The aligned scaffolds are thin enough to allow microscopic imaging.

Marie Bechler, a senior researcher in the french-Constant laboratory at the MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine, said “The aligned Mimetix scaffold fibres from AMSBIO have been an invaluable tool, allowing us to answer fundamental questions regarding how oligodendrocytes form central nervous system (CNS) myelin sheaths. The suppliers of the Mimetix fibres worked with us to create customised three-dimensional fibres, facilitating the development of an oligodendrocyte culture assay."

The culture system we developed permits the examination of myelin sheath formation in the absence of neurons. The aligned microfibres used in our research have enabled us to examine both the physical and molecular signals sufficient to drive CNS myelin sheath formation, which could not be assessed in other culture models. This has opened new opportunities to examine the role of physical cues, heterogeneity due to oligodendrocyte origin, and the sufficiency of molecules to control the number and size of myelin sheaths formed by oligodendrocytes."

 

Marie Bechler, senior researcher in the french-Constant laboratory, MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine

"Our findings and future work illuminate how myelin sheaths are formed during brain and spinal cord development as well as what signals enhance myelin sheath formation. This research is of particular importance for developing future therapies for diseases of myelin loss, such as multiple sclerosis and leukodystrophies”.

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