Stem Cell Research—Collaborative MS Research Center
Dr. Thomas Lane, Lead Investigator
2012 grant of $250,000
Dr. Lane is leading a five year project seeking to define key “chemokine receptors” that allow for migration of immature myelin-making cells following transplantation into mice with established damage to myelin. Dr. Lane and colleagues have made substantial progress in the first three years of this research, including the identification of a potential new therapeutic target for protecting the body’s natural repair cells from dying and allowing myelin repair to occur; exploring new avenues for preventing stem cell transplants from being rejected; and following up on potential ways to enhance the repair capabilities of cell transplants.
Collaborative MS Research Centers
The National MS Society offers special funding for Collaborative MS Research Centers to help stimulate collaboration and interaction in MS research among independent investigators, strengthen the ties between basic and clinical research, and stimulate recruitment of researchers from other fields into MS research. This funding serves to leverage already available research support.
To be considered for funding, all projects must show relevance to the Society’s research mission of stopping MS progression, restoring function, improving quality of life, and preventing MS.
Dr. Thomas Lane: Exploring Cell Replacement Strategies for Repairing Damage in MS
Dr. Thomas Lane is a Chancellor’s Professor in the Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry at the University of California, Irvine. He has extensive experience in animal models of both the nervous and immune systems. Dr. Lane earned a BS degree in microbiology at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, and a Ph.D. in microbiology and immunology for the University of California, Los Angeles. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship in virology, funded by the National MS Society, at Scripps Clinic in La Jolla. Dr. Lane has published some 75 scientific papers and currently serves as a peer reviewer for the Society’s research programs department.
The promise of cell replacement strategies to treat MS is significant; imagine being able to infuse people with cells that could make new myelin, or transform into healthy nerve cells. But introducing new cells into humans also involves great risk. Developing safe and effective cellular therapies is a matter that demands tremendous focus.
This is the goal of the five-year Collaborative MS Research Center Award ($742,500 from 11/09 to 10/14) to Dr. Thomas Lane. Dr. Lane’s team is investigating how to combine surgical implantation of immature cells with modulation of the immune attack; thus simultaneously promoting myelin repair while muting myelin damage. Dr. Lane has extensive experience of both nerve cell loss/repair and T cell immunology, both areas that are extremely relevant to MS research. Recently, he has also examined cell replacement strategies for promoting myelin repair.
Dr. Lane is leading a project seeking to define key “chemokine receptors”, or messenger receivers that allow for migration of immature myelin-making cells (also known as oligodendrocyte progenitors or OPCs) following transplantation into mice with established damage to myelin. Chemokines are immune chemicals that attract and assist the migration of the principle culprits of the immune attack in MS, T cells and macrophages, into the brain and spinal cord. Dr. Lane has previously been funded by the Society to study these chemicals and their receptors, or docking sites, for clues to stopping the influx of immune cells into the brain and spinal cord, but is now looking at them as possible vehicles for allowing the migration of therapeutic cells.
The grant from MS Hope will fund the final two years of Dr. Lane’s five-year Collaborative MS Research Center Award.