Researchers discover potential way to repair brain damage in multiple sclerosis
Researchers at Oregon Health & Science University have discovered that blocking a certain enzyme in the brain can help repair the brain damage associated with multiple sclerosis and a range of other neurological disorders.
The discovery could have major implications for multiple sclerosis, complications from premature birth and other disorders and diseases caused by demyelination – a process where the insulation-like sheath surrounding nerve cells in the brain becomes damaged or destroyed. Demyelination disrupts the ability of nerve cells to communicate with each other, and produces a range of motor, sensory and cognitive problems in MS and other disorders.
The study was published this week in the online edition of the Annals of Neurology. The study was conducted by a team of researchers led by Larry Sherman, Ph.D., who is a professor of cell and development biology at OHSU and a senior scientist in the Division of Neuroscience at the Oregon National Primate Research Center.
"What this means is that we have identified a whole new target for drugs that might promote repair of the damaged brain in any disorder in which demyelination occurs," Sherman said. "Any kind of therapy that can promote remyelination could be an absolute life-changer for the millions of people suffering from MS and other related disorders."
Sherman's lab has been studying MS and other conditions where myelin is damaged for more than 14 years. In 2005, he and his research team discovered that a sugar molecule, called hyaluronic acid, accumulates in areas of damage in the brains of humans and animals with demyelinating brain and spinal cord lesions. Their findings at the time, published in Nature Medicine, suggested that hyaluronic acid itself prevented remyelination by preventing cells that form myelin from differentiating in areas of brain damage.
The new study shows that the hyaluronic acid itself does not prevent the differentiation of myelin-forming cells. Rather, breakdown products generated by a specific enzyme that chews up hyaluronic acid – called a hyaluronidase – contribute to the remyelination failure.
This enzyme is highly elevated in MS patient brain lesions and in the nervous systems of animals with an MS-like disease. The research team, which included OHSU pediatric neurologist Stephen Back, M.D., and OHSU neuroscientist Steve Matsumoto, Ph.D., found that by blocking hyaluronidase activity, they could promote myelin-forming cell differentiation and remyelination in the mice with the MS-like disease. Most significantly, the drug that blocked hyaluronidase activity led to improved nerve cell function.
The next step is to develop drugs that specifically target this enzyme. "The drugs we used in this study could not be used to treat patients because of the serious side effects they might cause," said Sherman. "If we can block the specific enzyme that is contributing to remyelination failure in the nervous system, it would likely cause few, if any, side effects."
Sherman and other researchers at the ONPRC are uniquely positioned to test newly developed drugs for their safety and effectiveness in nonhuman primates at ONPRC that spontaneously develop an MS-like disease. If they find a drug that is effective in these monkeys, they will be in a good position to test such drugs in patients.
Sherman cautioned that the discovery does not necessarily signal a cure for MS. Many other factors can contribute to the problems associated with MS and other demyelinating diseases, he said. But discovering the actions of this enzyme—and finding a way to block it—"could at the very least lead to new ways to promote the repair of brain and spinal cord damage either by targeting this enzyme alone or by inhibiting the enzyme in conjunction with other therapies."
Journal reference: Annals of Neurology
Provided by Oregon Health & Science University
- Study shows halting an enzyme can slow multiple sclerosis in mice Apr 30, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Hopes for reversing age-associated effects in MS patients Jan 06, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Mayo Clinic uses new approach to reverse multiple sclerosis in mice models Jun 28, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Researchers develop gene therapy to boost brain repair for demyelinating diseases Feb 09, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- One size does not fit all: A new look at therapies May 26, 2009 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
Why is zone 1 in liver more prone to ischemic injury?
May 23, 2013 Hi, Is it because around central vein, there is only deoxygenated blood from the vein where as in the periphery there is hepatic artery. Also why...
How can there be villous adenoma in colon, if there are no villi there
May 22, 2013 As title suggest. Thanks :smile:
How can there be a term called "intestinal metaplasia" of stomach
May 21, 2013 Hello everyone, Ok Stomach's normal epithelium is simple columnar, now in intestinal type of adenocarcinoma of stomach it undergoes "intestinal...
Pressure-volume curve: Elastic Recoil Pressure don't make sense
May 18, 2013 From pressure-volume curve of the lung and chest wall (attached photo), I don't understand why would the elastic recoil pressure of the lung is...
If you became brain-dead, would you want them to pull the plug?
May 17, 2013 I'd want the rest of me to stay alive. Sure it's a lousy way to live but it beats being all-the-way dead. Maybe if I make it 20 years they'll...
MRI bill question
May 15, 2013 Dear PFers, The hospital gave us a $12k bill for one MRI (head with contrast). The people I talked to at the hospital tell me that they do not...
- More from Physics Forums - Medical Sciences
More news stories
New research presented today shows that formation of new neurons in the hippocampus - a brain region known for its importance in learning and remembering - could cause forgetting of old memories by causing a reorganization ...
Neuroscience 1 hour ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 0
How can healthy people who hear voices help schizophrenics? Finding the answer for this is at the centre of research conducted at the University of Bergen.
Neuroscience 2 hours ago | 3 / 5 (1) | 2
One of the major frontiers of modern science is a comprehensive understanding of the human brain and its functions to guide the development of new technologies in information and communication. In a major announcement for ...
Neuroscience 2 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
(Medical Xpress)—Regulating the distribution of power in neurons is done by a system that makes the national electric grid look simple by comparison. Each neuron has several thousand mitochondria confined ...
Neuroscience 17 hours ago | 4.9 / 5 (7) | 0 |
(Medical Xpress)—The human brain is able to identify individuals' voices by comparing them against an internal 'average voice' prototype, according to neuroscientists.
Neuroscience 21 hours ago | 1 / 5 (1) | 2 |
(Medical Xpress)—A new study by researchers in the US has shown that an ancient virus can be modified to help in the fight against the simian immunodeficiency virus SIV, which is the equivalent in monkeys ...
2 hours ago | 5 / 5 (3) | 0 |
Ernie Pyle – an iconic war correspondent in World War II – reportedly said "There are no atheists in foxholes." A new joint study between two brothers at Cornell and Virginia Wesleyan found that only ...
1 hour ago | 3 / 5 (1) | 0
Researchers from London's Kingston University have begun a two-year study which could help prolong the lives of people with colorectal tumours.
2 hours ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 0
(Medical Xpress)—Patients with diabetes who are depressed are much more likely to develop episodes of dangerously low blood sugars, or hypoglycemia, than are those who are not depressed, a new study has ...
3 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |
The individualisation of drug treatments to support patients to self-manage their conditions is a concept that sits at the heart of policy, but a recent study in BMJ Open shows that there is no concrete defini ...
2 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
(Medical Xpress)—Research by Stanford scholar Emma Seppala at the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education found that post-traumatic stress disorder decreased in veterans who participated ...
2 hours ago | not rated yet | 0