multiple sclerosis

Although Multiple Sclerosis is not my area of specialty, I came across this study and found it fascinating perhaps because I just saw a mini documentary about a professional hockey player recently diagnosed with the disease.

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system that attacks and damages the myelin sheath, the protective covering of the nerves affecting the brain, spinal cord and optic nerve. Myelin is necessary for the transmission of nerve impulses through nerve fibres. If the damage to myelin is minimal, it is possible for nerve impulses to travel with minor interruptions. If however the damage is severe and if scar tissue has replaced the myelin, nerve impulses may be completely disrupted and the nerve fibres themselves can be damaged. Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis may include the following:  lack of coordination, weakness, extreme fatigue, tingling, impaired sensation, vision problems, bladder problems, cognitive impairment and mood changes.  In Canada it is estimated that approximately 100,000 people are living with the disease.  MS is most commonly diagnosed between 14-40 years old.

Findings from this study, led by Dr Yvonne Dombrowski and Dr Denise Fitzgerald at the Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine at Queen’s University Belfast, show that:

“a protein made by certain cells within the immune system triggers the brain’s stem cells to mature into oligodendrocytes that repair myelin.”

The report goes on further to state that:

“(the study) is being hailed as a landmark study in unravelling the mysteries of how the brain repairs damage. This is crucial in the fight against MS, which affects 2.3 million people world-wide…The discovery means that researchers can now use this new knowledge to develop medicines which will boost these particular cells and develop an entirely new class of treatments for the future.”

You can read the full report of the study here.


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