January 11, 2012

New Hope for MS Patients

(Ivanhoe Newswire)-- Recent studies give hope for patients with the irreversible disease known as MS or multiple sclerosis by possibly reversing the aging effects of the central nervous system. Approximately 100,000 people in the United Kingdom, 400,000 in the United States and several million worldwide are affected by MS.

With age our bodies' regenerative abilities decrease. While wrinkles allow us to see visible aging effects of skin many other body tissues are left invisibly aging. People with multiple sclerosis are affected heavily by the regenerative processes due to the diseases' long term nature. MS symptoms include the loss of physical skills, sensation, vision, bladder control, and intellectual abilities.

In the journal Cell Stem Cell a study describes how insulating layers that protect nerve fibers in the brain, known as myelin sheaths, become damaged in multiple sclerosis. The loss of myelin in the brain prevents nerve fibers from sending signals properly and eventually leads to the loss of the nerve fiber itself. Early in the disease, a regenerative process, or remyelination, occurs and the myelin sheaths are restored. Sadly, as people with MS age, remyelination decreases significantly, causing more nerve fibers to become permanently lost.

Research presented by Professor Robin Franklin, Director of the MS Society's Cambridge Center for Myelin Repair at the University of Cambridge. Show that in mice the age-associated decline in the regeneration of the nerve's myelin sheath, or remyelination, is reversible. The proof of principle study demonstrates that when old mice are exposed to the inflammatory cells from young mice, the ageing remyelination process can be reversed.

"For individuals with MS, this means that in theory regenerative therapies will work throughout the duration of the disease"." Professor Robin Franklin was quoted as saying.

SOURCE: Cell Stem Cell, January 6, 2012