Scientists Able To Reactivate Myelin Regeneration In Mouse Models Of MS

lab workerMultiple sclerosis is an autoimmune condition where the body’s own immune system attacks myelin, the protective insulation of the nerve fibers. As a result, it leads to symptoms that can affect one’s movement and balance among other things. The disease is known to have no known cure although many therapies are available to help sufferers from handling their symptoms and living a normal life despite t8he disease. There have been a number of developments since then in the continuing fight to find a cure for MS. One recent study showed that it may be possible to trigger myelin regeneration and possibly restore some motor functions in people with MS.

A recent study conducted by researchers from the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in Ohio has been able to demonstrate triggering myelin regeneration in a mouse model of MS by use of microRNA, and even restore limb function in the affected mice. The findings were recently reported in the journal Developmental Cell.

Researchers have been looking into restoring the myelin in patients with MS. One of the ways was to try and stimulate oligodendrocytes into producing myelin. Richard Lu, Ph.D., of the Brain Tumor Center at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in Ohio and his colleagues reveal in their study that the microRNA miR-219 can do just that.

MicroRNA’s are fragments of RNA found in cell chromosomes that aid in regulating gene expression. There are instances that microRNA’s can inhibit the activity of genes within the cells. Previous studies have shown that damaged nerves and tissues from patients of MS and other neurodegenerative diseases are found to be lacking in miR-219. Because of this, Dr. Lu and his team speculated that miR-219 may play a role in restoring myelin formation.

In order to determine the link, the researchers tried removing miR-219 in mouse models of MS and analyzed the effects of doing so. The findings showed that myelin damage was triggered by the autoimmune disorder encephalomyelitis as well as by exposure to lysolecithin. The researchers noticed that the absence of miR-219 has activated several of the proteins involved in preventing myelin formation.

Next Dr. Lu and his team went on to determine whether miR-219 might play a role in stimulating oligodendrocyte activity. In order to do this, they administered a synthetic version of miR-219 to their mice models. The researchers found out that using miR-219 not only resulted in myelin regeneration by stimulating oligodendrocyte function, but also showed an improvement in limb function among mouse treated in the study.

Based on the results of the study, Dr. Lu and his team believes that they have found another potential treatment target for people with MS.

“We show that miR-219 targets multiple processes that inhibit myelin formation after nerve injury by the disease process, and that treatment with this microRNA partially restores myelination and limb function. It is conceivable that augmenting miR-219 treatment with other blockers of myelin regrowth may provide a multipoint treatment strategy for people with demyelinating diseases like MS,” Dr. Lu added.

Further studies may be needed before determining if such a treatment may prove safe in humans with multiple sclerosis.

Source: Medical News Today

 
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