Neuroscientist Ian D. Duncan has been awarded the 2020 John Dystel Prize for Multiple Sclerosis Research for work that advanced understanding of how myelin, the protective sheath surrounding nerve cells, can be repaired in diseases like multiple sclerosis (MS).
“Professor Duncan has made a series of critical research advances that bring us closer to understanding how to restore function in people with MS by promoting myelin repair,” Bruce Bebo, PhD, executive vice president of research for the National MS Society, said in a press release.
The myelin sheath is a fat-rich substance that covers nerve fibers and allows signals relayed by nerve cells to be transmitted very rapidly. This protective coat is progressively damaged in MS, causing nerve cells of the central nervous system (CNS, the brain and spinal cord) to die.
Duncan, PhD, a professor of neurology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, School of Veterinary Medicine, has dedicated his career to understanding the myelin sheath and to finding feasible ways to repair this protective coating in disorders related to myelin damage.
Throughout the years, Duncan has contributed to identifying a number of new myelin-related disorders in animals, some of which model diseases in humans, and to understanding oligodendrocytes — cells of the CNS that produce myelin.
His research focused on the isolation, characterization, and expansion of oligodendrocytes from both embryonic stem cells and brain stem cells in humans and animals.
Duncan also pioneered transplants of these myelinating cells into the spinal cord of animal models, devised ways to follow these cells using MRI scans, and showed that the transplanted cells could help to myelinate large areas of the CNS.
His research raised new treatment possibilities, as it showed that adult oligodendrocytes can help to repair the myelin sheath after damage has taken place, and that repairing this protective coating could help to restore nerve function.
We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!
Let us improve this post!
Tell us how we can improve this post?