Multiple Sclerosis is a disease that attacks the central nervous system is a very particular way, as it erodes the membrane that coats nerve fibers in the brain. This type of damage can affect the brain itself, as well as the spinal cord and the optic nerves inside the eyes of the patient. There is even a correlation between multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease that is truly worrisome. This type of damage resulting in exposed nerve cells is extremely dangerous to the nervous system since synapses will fire without any reason and all and the whole balance of bodily systems can go into disarray easily and without much notice.
One of the most peculiar things about MS and something that we have previously discussed here at Joe Cosgrove’s Blog is that the brain’s inability to regenerate myelin makes a very difficult malady to deal with, as it is the case with autoimmune diseases. While the brain is supposed to be able to regenerate myelin and protect those open nerve fibers that have been rendered defenseless by erosion, it seems like something that scientists still do not fully understand, stops the process and makes it impossible to be completed.
A brilliant research team in Gladstone led by Katerina Akassoglou, Ph.D., has proposed an interesting alternative strategy as a result of their study on fibrinogen, a protein found in the blood that aids with clotting but that also prevents brain cells from producing myelin normally when it is leaked into the central nervous system. It seems that the cells that are able to rebuild myelin coating already exist within the body, specifically in the central nervous system, but the fact that this process is interrupted when it comes to most neurological diseases seems to be the reason why this is such a dilemma. It seems like the research has revealed that not only does fibrinogen causes inflammation in brain cells but it also prevents adult stem cells into becoming the type of cells that can produce myelin normally in order to repair the damage. It seems like the key to allowing the body to repair itself from these types of diseases, lies on the ability that we may gain from stopping this contamination into the inner workings of the central nervous systems and stopping this protein from creating such disruption.
The CHANGE-MS study was a study presented at 7th Joint European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis-Americas Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ECTRIMS-ACTRIMS) 2017 summit and while one of their main efforts was not entirely successful, it did have a side effect that ended up becoming a hopeful chance when it comes to finding ways to promote remyelination in MS. While the monoclonal antibody used against retroviral protein simply did not show effects that were significant enough to warrant a success, there was enough data to look at an alternative provided by an antibody known as GnbAC1 being developed by GeNeuro that may have the anti-inflammatory effect the researchers were looking for and it is shedding some light on the matter. It seems that results are hopeful towards finding a way to finally answer the mystery of allowing the body to produce and repair myelin in patients with multiple sclerosis. The study is at its early stages still, but it does show some promise and it is without a doubt a novel approach on this fight since it takes a more therapeutic stance on the subject and looks to treat in a different way that we have attempted to do so before.
Repairing myelin is not something that is a goal exclusively of those with multiple sclerosis. Finding a way for the body to repair the damaged coating of nerve fibers is something that can help fighting many different diseases like stroke, neonatal brain injuries and even Alzheimer’s disease and that is why this new approaches to eliminating the toxic effects of brain damage at a vascular level are becoming so important, because they seem to be the way to finally achieve breakthroughs.
Something else that is quite worrisome is the fact that while most of these treatments may help patients in the earliest stages of the disease, they seem to be of no comfort to those who are already advanced in the debilitating process of MS. This is why recently; a Cleveland Clinic-led NIH study has proposed the use of a new medication already being used in Japan called Ibudilast. This oral medication that is used for treating asthma and other post-stroke related symptoms seems to show promise when it comes to protecting nerve cells from further damage, something that will fit like a glove those patients with reduced myelin integrity as it is the case with multiple sclerosis. The early results have been impressive, but only time will tell if this is actually an alternative and a possible solution to the problem.
* Featured Image courtesy of Pixabay at Pexels.com