Finding a way to help repair the myelin (the fatty coating that helps insulate nerve fibres so they can send messages in the body) damaged by MS is an area of intense research. Scientists have made a few new discoveries in this area:
Could a vaccine help repair myelin? Studies are underway for a vaccine that helps cells produce myelin basic protein (MBP). MBP is a part of myelin that is damaged in MS. Researchers hope that the vaccine will help stimulate the body to repair myelin in the areas damaged by MS.
Can pregnancy hormones help? Researchers from the University of Calgary have found that prolactin, a pregnancy-related hormone, can help rebuild myelin in mice. Even non-pregnant mice had increases in myelin when they were injected with prolactin. Human studies are needed to better understand the role of prolactin.
Brain, fix thyself. Scientists have found an area of the brain, called the subventricular zone (SVZ), that contains high numbers of stem cells capable of making myelin. People with MS have even higher numbers of stem cells with the potential to make myelin in this area than people without MS. If we can find a way to target this area of the brain to "ramp up" myelin production, this could help repair the damage of MS.
Speaking the LINGO. Researchers have found that LINGO-1, a molecule that's part of myelin, plays a role in blocking the repair of myelin. They are now experimenting with ways to block LINGO-1 as a way of increasing myelin repair. Early studies in mice have shown promising results; human studies are needed.
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