MS research could help repair damage affecting nerves

Multiple sclerosis treatments that repair damage to the brain could be developed thanks to new research.

A study has shed light on how cells are able to regenerate protective sheaths around in the brain.

These sheaths, made up of a substance called myelin, are critical for the quick transmission of , enabling vision, sensation and movement, but break down in patients with (MS).

The study, by the Universities of Edinburgh and Cambridge, found that , known as macrophages, help trigger the regeneration of myelin.

Researchers found that following loss of or damage to myelin, can release a compound called activin-A, which activates production of more myelin.

Dr Veronique Miron, of the Medical Research Council Centre for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Edinburgh, said: "In multiple sclerosis patients, the protective layer surrounding nerve fibres is stripped away and the nerves are exposed and damaged.

"Approved therapies for multiple sclerosis work by reducing the initial myelin injury – they do not promote myelin regeneration. This study could help find new to enhance myelin regeneration and help to restore lost function in patients with multiple sclerosis."

The study, which looked at myelin regeneration in human tissue samples and in mice, is published in Nature Neuroscience and was funded by the MS Society, the Wellcome Trust and the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada.

Scientists now plan to start further research to look at how activin-A works and whether its effects can be enhanced.

Dr Susan Kohlhaas, Head of Biomedical Research at the MS Society, said: "We urgently need therapies that can help slow the progression of MS and so we're delighted researchers have identified a new, potential way to repair damage to myelin. We look forward to seeing this research develop further."

Dr Karen Lee, Vice-President, Research at the MS Society of Canada, said: "We are pleased to fund MS research that may lead to treatment benefits for people living with MS. We look forward to advances in treatments that address repair specifically, so that people with MS may be able to manage the unpredictable symptoms of the disease."

More information: Nature Neuroscience DOI: 10.1038/nn.3469

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Student seeks to improve pneumonia vaccines

2 hours ago

Almost a million Americans fall ill with pneumonia each year. Nearly half of these cases require hospitalization, and 5-7 percent are fatal. Current vaccines provide protection against some strains of the ...

Seabed solution for cold sores

3 hours ago

The blue blood of abalone, a seabed delicacy could be used to combat common cold sores and related herpes virus following breakthrough research at the University of Sydney.

Better living through mitochondrial derived vesicles

23 hours ago

(Medical Xpress)—As principal transformers of bacteria, organelles, synapses, and cells, vesicles might be said to be the stuff of life. One need look no further than the rapid rise to prominence of The ...

Zebrafish help to unravel Alzheimer's disease

Aug 19, 2014

New fundamental knowledge about the regulation of stem cells in the nerve tissue of zebrafish embryos results in surprising insights into neurodegenerative disease processes in the human brain. A new study by scientists at ...

Engineering new bone growth

Aug 19, 2014

MIT chemical engineers have devised a new implantable tissue scaffold coated with bone growth factors that are released slowly over a few weeks. When applied to bone injuries or defects, this coated scaffold ...

User comments