How does nerve cell insulation affect memory in MS?

Dr Kalina Makowiecki

Menzies Institute for Medical Research, TAS

| Better treatments | Neurobiology | Fellowship | 2020 | Investigator Led Research |


In the brain, nerve cells form circuits which are remodelled by life experience, allowing us to learn and remember things. The nerve fibres that make up these circuits are insulated by cells called oligodendrocytes, which increase the speed of information transfer. In MS, the immune system causes regions of damage called lesions. In these damaged regions, the insulation is lost, slowing or interrupting the movement of electrical signals within and from the brain. However, it is not known how this loss of insulation influences circuit remodelling in brain lesions or more generally in the brain regions without lesions. Dr Kalina Makowiecki predicts that insulation loss and lesion formation is not only associated with the slowing of the electrical signal, but with other changes to nerve cells and brain circuit remodelling that would affect a person’s ability to remember and multitask (cognition). Such changes could underpin the cognitive impairments experienced by the majority of people with MS.

This project aims to understand whether insulation loss, and the slowing of communication between nerve cells in a brain circuit, can impact brain circuit connections. Knowledge of the cellular changes that occur to brain circuits as a result of MS-like pathology is necessary to overcome debilitating symptoms such as cognitive impairment and fatigue.

Updated: 21 January, 2020

Stages of the research process

Fundamental laboratory

Laboratory research that investigates scientific theories behind the possible causes, disease progression, ways to diagnose and better treat MS.

Lab to clinic timeline: 10+ years

Research that builds on fundamental scientific research to develop new therapies, medical procedures or diagnostics and advances it closer to the clinic.

Lab to clinic timeline: 5+ years
Clinical Studies
and Clinical Trials

Clinical research is the culmination of fundamental and translational research turning those research discoveries into treatments and interventions for people with MS.

Lab to clinic timeline: 1-5 years


  • Dr Kalina Makowiecki

Grant Awarded

  • Postdoctoral Fellowship

Total Funding

  • $180,000


  • 3 years over 2020 - 2022

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