I intend this blog to be a mixture of my personal experiences with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and news related to MS. Hopefully, I can shed an optimistic light on MS even though it is difficult to be an optimist living with MS.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Good Stuff from UNC

Researchers may have discovered the cause of MS!  Exciting research ongoing at the University of North Carolina may have discovered the cause and a possible way of curing MS.

From an article that my sister emailed to me:

Patients afflicted with multiple sclerosis may soon have the treatment they’ve been waiting for.
In a study published in the Jan. 27 issue of the journal Neuron, University researchers outlined their controversial finding that the reviving of the nodes of Ranvier can prevent the chain reaction that results in MS, a chronic, often disabling disease that attacks the central nervous system.
Led by cell and molecular physiology professor Manzoor Bhat, the study uncovered a molecular mechanism in nerve fibers that is crucial to conducting neural impulses, the messengers that communicate between the brain and the body.
And it defied all of the earlier findings.
“There is a lot of controversy going on over this because the results go against the other studies done on the same topics,” said research associate Courtney Thaxton, the lead author of the study.
The study found that the nodes of Ranvier, which facilitate the neuron’s conduction process, keep myelin segments from overlapping. Thaxton said this is important because if the segments touch they stop the neuron from functioning and cause MS.
Previously, scientists did not fully understand the nodes of Ranvier’s effect on the neuron’s function, she said.
“The important thing is to not let the myelin touch,” Bhat said. “These nodes … do not allow the paranodes to touch.”
The findings could lead to a way for doctors to remake the nodes of Ranvier in patients who are in the early stages of MS. By regrowing the nodes, doctors could prevent the myelin from overlapping and disintegrating, possibly halting the disease.
Thaxton said future studies on the topic will be focused on finding the time it takes for a neuron to be unrecoverable.
“We need to find the point of no return,” she said.
“We need to find how long a neuron can go before there is no hope for remyelination so we can know when to treat the disease.”
In order to continue work on the study, Bhat and Thaxton are also working on attaining grants for the project.
“We are hoping that being published in the journal and getting that attention will help us receive further funding so we can continue research,” Thaxton said.
Glenn Matsushima, a researcher of the brain and its development, said that the results are critical to finding a cure for MS.
“If we can find a way to remyelinate the neuron, we could find a way to reverse the effects of MS,” Bhat said.
“Now that we have this research we are one step closer to finding that.”

So, if we can figure out how to rebuild these nodes and remyelinate the neurons, we could have a cure for MS.  Very interesting and exciting if this holds water!  I would love to know more about this; I tried to find more on this subject but was not very lucky.  If anyone has any additional information regarding this, please let me know!

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