Mayo Clinic uses new approach to reverse multiple sclerosis in mice models

June 28, 2012

Mayo Clinic researchers have successfully used smaller, folded DNA molecules to stimulate regeneration and repair of nerve coatings in mice that mimic multiple sclerosis (MS). They say the finding, published today in the journal PLoS ONE, suggests new possible therapies for MS patients.

"The problem has been to find a way to encourage the nervous system to regenerate its own myelin (the coating on the nerves) so can recover from an MS attack," says L. James Maher III, Ph.D., Mayo Clinic biochemist and senior author on the paper. "We show here that these small molecules, called aptamers, can stimulate repair in the mice we are studying."

More than 200,000 people have multiple sclerosis. There is no cure and no effective therapy to stop progression or repair damage to the that surrounds and protects the nerves. Without that protection, will be damaged, leading to declining mobility and cognitive function, and other debilitating complications.

MS researchers, including Mayo neurologist Moses Rodriguez, M.D., a co-author on this paper, have focused on monoclonal antibodies in mice to stimulate myelin repair. The Rodriguez and Maher teams, working together, have determined that the aptamers are not only effective, but they are easy and cheap to synthesize -- an important point for drug developers. They also are stable and not likely to cause an immune response. This new approach must be validated in other mouse models to see if it might be a candidate for human clinical trials.

The monoclonal antibodies used in earlier research are large and complex, but were shown to promote both cell signaling and remyelination of central nervous system lesions in mice. The aptamers used in this study are less than one-tenth the size of antibodies and are single-strands of DNA containing only 40 nucleotide units.

Explore further: Hopes for reversing age-associated effects in MS patients

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Artificial beta cells

December 8, 2016

Researchers led by ETH Professor Martin Fussenegger at the Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering (D-BSSE) in Basel have produced artificial beta cells using a straightforward engineering approach.

Key regulator of bone development identified

December 8, 2016

Loss of a key protein leads to defects in skeletal development including reduced bone density and a shortening of the fingers and toes—a condition known as brachydactyly. The discovery was made by researchers at Penn State ...

Researchers question lifelong immunity to toxoplasmosis

December 8, 2016

Medical students are taught that once infected with Toxoplasma gondii—the "cat parasite"—then you're protected from reinfection for the rest of your life. This dogma should be questioned, argue researchers in an Opinion ...

TET proteins drive early neurogenesis

December 7, 2016

The fate of stem cells is determined by series of choices that sequentially narrow their available options until stem cells' offspring have found their station and purpose in the body. Their decisions are guided in part by ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.