Immune mediated loss of myelin sheaths (a process called demyelination) from the neurons in the brain and/or spinal cord causes neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS). In the human brain and spinal cord, myelin acts as an insulating material that coats and protects neurons and helps conduct information between the brain and various parts of our body. In order to improve function and reduce disability in patients with MS, it is desirable to develop therapies that both: 1) inhibit the activity of disease-causing immune cells, and 2) promote remyelination of axons by oligodendrocytes, the specialized cells that produce myelin sheath. Currently, all available drugs for MS focus on controlling a patient’s immune response. No drugs are available that can directly promote remyelination. In our laboratory, we have established an efficient method to grow human oligodendrocyte cells. We are using the gene editing technique called CRISPR/Cas9 to insert fluorescent markers and reporter sequences into specific genes so that the cells that become oligodendrocytes will be molecularly labeled. The labeled cells can be easily detected, identified and purified. Using these cells, we have established an assay platform to screen for drugs that promote myelin formation. We are beginning to test libraries of drugs to identify a lead drug that can promote the remyelination capacity of the human oligodendrocyte cells and prevent them from dying under stressful conditions. This research is conducted in Donald J. Zack’s laboratory in the Department of Ophthalmology.