Multiple Sclerosis Research Charges Ahead With New Mouse Model of Disease

A new study aims to find a way to treat demyelinating diseases such as multiple sclerosis by trying to identify and determine the factors and the changes that happen leading to myelin breakdown.

Researchers have developed a mouse model in such a study which highlights the role of a certain charge switching enzyme in nervous system deficits related to multiple sclerosis and other similar neurological illness.

Multiple sclerosis is a disease characterized by a breakdown in the myelin sheath. Myelin functions similar to a rubber insulator in a common electrical cord to allow signals to follow a pathway more efficiently without interference.

In cases of myelin breakdown, the electrical signals that are transmitted through the neural pathways in the body and to the brain is interrupted, causing such problems concerning balance, coordination and movement.

A team of Canadian researchers has reported about a new mouse model that would further help scientists in better understanding just how demyelination occurs. With previous studies identifying an increase of a certain enzyme called peptidylarginine deiminase 2 or PAD2 in patients with MS, the researchers were able to create a genetically modified mouse model that expresses too much of the said enzyme.

Abdiwahab A. Musse and colleagues from the University of Guelph and the Hospital for Sick Children in Ontario found with the mouse model that the genetically modified mouse model showed significant loss of myelin and also showed signs of abnormal movement, body coordination and balance.

With the new mouse model, researchers are given a new means to study how demyelinating disease develops and how the role of the enzyme PAD2 is significant for maintaining myelin integrity. The work also may highlight the possibility of PAD as a potential target in searching for treatment of such diseases. The role of PAD2 in demyelination can also serve as a potential marker for the early detection of MS and other types of demyelinating diseases.

Source: ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 11, 2008, from­ /releases/2008/11/081106064350.htm

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