Emily Harrington, MD, PhD

Read about Emily Harrington, MD, PhD

What We Know:
Oligodendrocytes are the cells in the central nervous system that wrap neurons with myelin sheaths and allow for rapid conduction of action potentials. Oligodendrocytes have many roles other than wrapping axons including communicating with neurons through synapses. A largely unexplained role of oligodendrocyte progenitors is how they interface and interact with immune cells and how these interactions influence the immune response and oligodendrocyte function and survival.

Our Plan to Help:
This grant proposes to define the molecular mechanisms that enable interactions between oligodendrocyte progenitors and cytotoxic T lymphocytes. Dr. Harrington’s team believes that oligodendrocyte progenitors through interactions with immune cells, can be co-opted into expressing myelin antigens and target themselves for killing by cytotoxic T lymphocytes and that their death leads to impaired remyelination.

The Potential Impact:
The results of this research may provide information about the mechanisms that contribute to oligodendrocyte progenitor cell death and neurodegeneration and provide insight into the biology of progressive multiple sclerosis. Dr. Harrington hopes that results from this study will help guide the development of therapies for multiple sclerosis that promote oligodendrocyte progenitor survival and prevent neurodegeneration.

Dr. Harrington is the recipient of the 2018 Clinician Scientist Development Award in Multiple Sclerosis funded by the American Brain Foundation and National Multiple Sclerosis Society.