The biological membrane is an important component of cellular function and metabolism. Several human diseases are related to malfunction of membrane properties. Multiple sclerosis is a chronic inflammatory disease of the central nervous system, correlated with myelin sheath destruction through membrane de-adhesion, swelling, and ultimately vesiculation. Destruction of the myelin sheath results in nerve conduction failure and neurodegeneration. Myelin basic protein is a protein that stabilizes the myelin membrane multi-layer and is an integral part of the myelin sheath. Several in vivo studies have identified lipid compositions of native (normal) and modified (diseased) cytoplasmic myelin sheaths from animals that suffer from multiple sclerosis syndromes.
The determination of the biological membrane components, their physical properties and interactions, and changes induced by interaction with binding proteins are important questions in the field of biology and are directly relevant for human health. Currently we investigate, whether we can find characteristic structural and dynamical properties of biological model membranes that act as the origin of multiple sclerosis on the nano-scale. The underlying scientific motivation is to directly connect molecular properties of native and diseased model membranes to the observed biological macroscopic behavior that leads to a human disease, namely multiple sclerosis.