Hopes rise of breakthrough in fight against MS
Researchers have succeeded in repairing the nerve damage that causes the disease, which affects the central nervous system, leading to muscle weakness.
A team of American scientists made the breakthrough in experiments with laboratory mice.
Dr Arthur Warrington, from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, said: "The findings could lead to new treatments that could limit permanent disability."
MS is caused by "friendly fire" from the body's immune system, which destroys myelin, the fatty insulation around nerve fibres in the brain and spinal cord.
The damage disrupts nerve messages, leading to symptoms ranging from blurred vision and numbness to complete paralysis.
Around 85,000 people in the UK, including former Clyde 1 DJ Tiger Tim, suffer from the condition for which there is currently no cure.
Treatment involves calming the immune system and reducing damaging inflammation, but nothing yet exists that can restore lost myelin.
Finding a way to repair myelin is the "Holy Grail" of MS research.
The scientists used a human antibody to re-grow myelin in mice with multiple sclerosis.
They found that one low dose of the antibody was enough to trigger the repair mechanism.
The antibody targets the sites of damage and activates cells responsible for synthesising myelin.
Patient trials are planned following further animal studies.
Publication date 09/10/07Submitted 10/10/2007 12:27:32 PM