Scientists have found a way to restore damaged myelin sheaths lost during Multiple Sclerosis.
Researchers from Joslin Diabetes Center, Harvard University and the University of Cambridge found that exposing old animals to circulatory systems of young animals may regenerate the myelin sheaths surrounding the nerves.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease affects the central nervous system. With multiple sclerosis the myelin surrounding nerve fibres in the central nervous system becomes damaged, disrupting the transfer of messages from the brain to the rest of the body.
Multiple sclerosis is the most common neurological condition in young adults in the UK. The disease can occur at any age but usually begins between 20 and 40 years of age.
Around 100,000 people are affected by MS in the UK, and women are twice as likely to develop multiple sclerosis as men.
There is no cure for MS, but medicines may slow it down and help control symptoms, according to the National Institute of Health Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
The researchers used a surgical technique to create small areas of myelin loss in the spinal cord of an old mouse. They then exposed that area to cells found in the blood of a young mouse. Their results, published in the journal Cell Stem Cell, showed that the immune cells from the young mouse helped the old mouse stem cells restore effective remyelination.
Professor Robin Franklin, director of the MS Society's Cambridge Centre for Myelin Repair at the University of Cambridge, said: "This means that, in theory, regenerative therapies will work throughout the duration of the disease.”
"This impairment can be reversed, however, suggesting that the eventual development of cell-based or drug-based interventions that mimic the rejuvenation signals found in our study could be used therapeutically", said Franklin.
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