In order to develop novel immunologic therapies that stop injury to the brain and spinal cord, the first step is to define why the immune system goes awry and what happens when the immune system crosses into the central nervous system. These studies need to be translated from the laboratory to animal models of multiple sclerosis (MS) and transverse myelitis (TM).
Definition of immune derangements and neural injury pathways:
The main goal of these studies is to identify immune factors that directly or indirectly mediate neuronal/axonal damage in the CNS, and investigate in vivo (within an animal system) neural consequences of inflammatory and non-inflammatory demyelination.
Identification of the neural consequences of immune effector cells utilizing a human neuronal, neuronal/glial and neuronal/glial/immune cell co-culture system are other important studies towards understand neural injury pathways.
Animal model development:
A first step to confirm if the model of injury created in vitro (outside an animal system) hold true in vivo is to develop an animal model that is similar to the disease that develops in humans. By understanding what the immune derangements and the triggers are, we can further the development of an animal model. Animal models hold great promise in studying new therapies prior to the development of clinical trials.