Every step that science takes toward a cure for Multiple Sclerosis is a step in the right direction. Here are some of the latest findings in the realms of MS research.
- The Mayo Clinic has discovered a new enzyme, Kallikrein 6, in brain lesions and blood samples related to MS. Further investigation showed that neutralizing this enzyme slowed progression of MS in mice. Further work will need to be done to replicate this in humans, but at this point it appears that Kallikrein 6 plays a major role in the disease.
- Researchers at Case Western Reserve University have determined that Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs are derived from adult stem cells) can prevent an autoimmune response AND repair myelin in animals. MSCs secrete hepatocyte growth factor which is believed to reduce the inflammation and to prompt the body to release molecules that reduce inflammation. In this study, demyelinated nerves became rewrapped with myelin. Further testing showed that using anti-hepatocyte growth factor blocked recovery in similar tests.
- The University Of California, San Diego has conducted a study of the effects of cannabis with 30 adults with MS. Individuals in the study experienced short-term cognitive issues and fatigue; however, they perception of pain was significantly reduced. Results were determined using the Ashford Scale which measures resistance in range of motion and rigidity as well as other objective tests. “We found that smoked cannabis was superior to placebo in reducing symptoms and pain in patients with treatment-resistant spasticity, or excessive muscle contractions,” said Corey-Bloom.
- Oxford University has identified a gene that causes vitamin D deficiency which may explain why MS can sometimes run in families (I have several relatives with MS). The culprit is a distorted CYP27B1 gene which controls vitamin D levels in the body, and I suspect, is why I take D3 5000 on a daily basis. The exact correlation between vitamin D deficiency and MS is still being determined, but this study may lead the way to linking them.
- INSERM has found a link between in vitro fertilization therapy and MS relapses. It is believed that synthetic hormonal chemicals (and GnRH agonists) like gonadotropin may lead to an increased relapse rate in the 3 months that follow. During this study, in vitro fertilization therapy patients appeared to have double the risk of relapse. If you’re considering this treatment, be informed!
- A new MS drug has been submitted to the FDA for approval! The new drug is Lemtrada™ (alemtuzumab). the drug is currently used to treat leukemia under the name Campath® and is made by Genzyme. This new drug showed that results were superior to Rebif in reducing relapses and patients on this drug are twice as likely to sustain reduction in disability as patients on Rebif. The drug is administered by 5 daily infusions, followed by 3 daily infusions a year later. I’m crossing my fingers that this is approved soon!
- New research suggests that when the immune system runs out of lipids to attack, our central nervous system comes next. It is possible that adding lipids may preserve myelin as well as reduce the inflammation. Spinal fluid was studied wherein researches noted that antibodies in people with MS targeted four lipids (PGPC, azPC, azPC ester and POPS) more than healthy examples. These four lipids have shown to be depleted at demyelinated sites in the brain. In mice, injections of these lipids over several weeks limited the severity of MS and reversed some of the symptoms. It may be possible that demyelination occurs due to a treatable deficiency in these lipids.
- That troublesome blood brain barrier that keeps letting the wrong things in may be controlled by the A2A adenosine receptor. Scientists have found ways to allow certain things to pass through the barrier, while blocking other things out, by activating or deactivating this receptor in mice. As more is discovered, new possibilities for treatments will become a reality
I’ll never catch everything, but ALL of these advances are fantastic news! Everytime progress is made, I have more faith that I will see a day when Multiple Sclerosis is cured.
What developments are you looking forward to?