Recent MS studies

On SIRT1 and nanoparticles

Recently, some exciting M.S. research results were forwarded to me by friends.

In May 2013, results of an M.S. study was reported in Inside Stanford Medicine, a publication by the Stanford University School of Medicine. The study itself, entitled "Expansion of oligodendrocyte progenitor cells following SIRT1 inactivation in the adult brain” was published in the journal Nature Cell Biology (Nat Cell Biol. 2013 Jun;15(6):614-24).

Usually, the protein SIRT1 is considered to be beneficial for health. However, in M.S. and other demyelinating diseases, inactivating it seems to show that it then stimulates the production of neural stem cells that make the myelin sheaths.

The work suggests that SIRT1 may normally limit the production of myelinating cells after childhood development and that it has to be inactivated to again allow the production of these cells.

These researchers think that eventually it may be possible to induce the brains of patients with M.S to heal themselves by blocking SIRT1. Of course, lots more research is needed. 

Another trial, "Antigen-specific tolerance by autologous myelin peptide–coupled cells: a phase 1 trial in multiple sclerosis" (Sci. Transl. Med. 5, 188ra75 (2013) suggests that reintroducing a patients' white blood cells back into the body, like a Trojan-horse, secretly carrying modified myelin antigens, results in the immune cells starting to recognize myelin as harmless. It only had nine participants, which is “too few to be called a study” according to our primary doctor, but it does suggest an exciting new line of research.

And nanoparticles, which are cheaper and more readily available than a patient’s white blood cells, are proving to be just as effective as delivery vehicles.

This is good news! I’m really interested in stem cell therapy, and this seems to me to be a way to get it without first entirely knocking out the existing immune system.

So go, go, go!

But researchers still don’t know what causes the disease.

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