Matthew McGuinness

By William & Mary

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Modeling Remyelination in Multiple Sclerosis

My research involves creating a computer model of regeneration of cells in multiple sclerosis. Multiple sclerosis is caused when the body’s immune system attacks support cells of the central nervous system, called oligodendrocytes. Without the proper support, neurons cannot function properly, leading to harmful symptoms and even muscle paralysis. However, the body is able to regenerate some of these oligodendrocytes, reducing the symptoms of multiple sclerosis for a short period of time. By examining a vast collection of research on these cells, I will create a computer model that maps out the exact pathway of proteins and other molecules the body uses to regenerate the oligodendrocytes. Once I have a pathway created in the computer, I will be able to manipulate certain molecules and see how they affect the regrowth of the oligodendrocytes. This manipulation represents what could happen if a person with the disease were to take a certain medication or drug. With this model, I could test the usefulness of current drug therapies, as well as look for areas of the disease that chemists should consider testing in the future, all without having to perform the expensive and potentially dangerous tests currently in use in many pharmaceutical labs.

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