Queen’s University Belfast scientists discover a fundamental breakthrough that could revolutionize the treatment of debilitating neurological disorders. For example, multiple sclerosis (MS). MS is the most common neurological disease affecting young adults. In this situation, the immune system wrongly attacks the myelin sclerosis covering nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord. But, scientists have discovered that specific cells in the immune system play a vital role in repairing myelin.
The study resolves the mysteries of how the brain repairs the damage. Although, the damage is crucial to fighting against MS that affected almost 2.3 million people in world-wide. It causes damage to myelin, the protective sheath surrounding nerve fibers of the central nervous system. And this damage causes symptoms such as vision loss, pain, fatigue, and paralysis.
Existing medical treatments could limit relapses but could not reverse the damage already done by the condition. But now, scientists have uncovered an extremely new approach that potentially repairs myelin damage.
The study shows that proteins within the immune system trigger the brain’s stem cells to mature into oligodendrocytes that repair myelin.
Lead author Dr. Dombrowski explained the importance of this new system. He said, “At Queen’s we are taking a unique and fresh approach to uncover how the immune system drives brain repair. This knowledge is essential to designing future treatments that tackle neurological diseases. For example, Multiple Sclerosis, in a new way– repairing damage rather than only reducing attacks. In the future, combining these approaches will deliver better outcomes for patients.”
According to other scientists, the study helps in understanding how the brain and spinal cord could naturally repair. It even opens up the new therapeutic potential for myelin regeneration in patients. That means scientists could develop an entirely new class of treatments for the future.
Dr Sorrel Bickley, Head of Biomedical Research at the MS Society, said: “Multiple Sclerosis is an unpredictable a challenging condition. We are committed to driving forward research to find effective treatments for everyone. This exciting study gives us an important understanding of how myelin repair can be promoted, which could open up new areas for treatment development. We welcome this international collaboration led by Northern Ireland, where rates of MS are among the highest in the world.”