Researchers have found a way to rebuild damaged nerve coverings that cause multiple sclerosis.
Finding ways to restore the myelin sheath is recognized as important to preventing the progression of disability in MS patients.
“Your brain runs on electricity. And, like electrical wires, your nervous system needs insulation.”
“Your brain runs on electricity. And, like electrical wires, your nervous system needs insulation. These nerves are covered by an insulating sheath called myelin that is vital to the normal functioning of our nervous system,” says Jessica Fletcher, the researcher who led the team that made the discovery.
“But for those people affected by diseases like MS, this insulating myelin is destroyed by the immune system—leading to significant nerve dysfunction as well as slowed or blocked nerve conduction between the brain and the rest of the body.”
Fletcher says the team successfully used a synthetic compound to stimulate a receptor pathway to promote remyelination in the brain.
“There’s nothing currently available to help with myelin sheath repair. The beauty of what our team has done is taken what naturally occurs in healthy cells and used that to manipulate a similar response in damaged cells,” she says.
“It’s very basic foundation research to show that this idea can work.”
Fletcher says this was early-stage research and any medical application to the discovery would be a long way off.
The research appears in the Journal of Neuroscience.
Source: Kathryn Powley for University of Melbourne