Meet our researchers: Dr Jennifer Pocock and Mutiple Sclerosis

Investigating the role of cells in multiple sclerosis, Dr Jennifer Pocock of the Institue of Neurology’s Department of Neuroinflammation, describes her research to reduce the death of nerve cells for patients living with the condition:

"The objective of the research was to understand how a cell in the brain called a microglial cell can damage another set of cells called oligodendrocytes (cells that sheathe nerves in the brain) in diseases such as multiple sclerosis.’

Oligodendrocytes produce a protective coating around nerve cells, like the coating around electrical cables.

In multiple sclerosis, the microglial cells attack the oligodendrocytes. This attack essentially removes the protective coating around nerves which are essential for conducting messages in the brain and also to and from the brain to the rest of the body.

This leads to the death of the nerve cells, and the result in patients is severe impairment of movement, sight, memory, and leads to pain, tremors and spasticity.

"Here we aim to determine if this damage to oligodendrocytes by microglia can be reduced by the manipulation of specific proteins, called receptors, present on the microglia."