Clinical implications of myelin regeneration in the central nervous system.

15 Jan 2018

INTRODUCTION: Amongst strategies to repair the brain, myelin repair offers genuine cause for optimism. Myelin, which sheaths most axons in the central nervous system (CNS), is vital for normal neurological function, as demonstrated by the functional deficits that accrue when it is absent in a range of debilitating myelin diseases. Following demyelination, post-mortem and imaging studies have shown that extensive regeneration of myelin is possible in the human brain. Over recent decades preclinical research has given us a strong understanding of the biology of myelin regeneration, opening up several exciting therapeutic opportunities that are on the cusp of clinical translation. Areas covered: This review discusses diseases that compromise the function of myelin, the endogenous capacity of the CNS to regenerate myelin, and why this sometimes fails. We then outline the extensive progress that has been made towards therapies that promote the regeneration of myelin. Expert commentary: Finally, a commentary on the first examples of these therapies to reach human patients and the evidence base that supports them, giving our opinion on where attention should be focused going forward is provided.