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MS ‘could be reversed’ with brain’s stem cells

New research could lead to drugs that repair the damage caused by multiple sclerosis (MS).



Scientists have identified a biochemical “switch” that helps stem cells in the brain fix injured nerves.

In future, medicines targeting the same pathway might provide a way to halt or even reverse the disease.

The discovery was described today as “one of the most exciting developments in recent years” by the head of an MS charity.

It points the way to new regenerative treatments for the auto-immune disease which affects almost 100,000 people in the UK.

Professor Robin Franklin, director of the MS Society's Cambridge Centre for Myelin Repair at Cambridge University, who led the study, said: “Therapies that repair damage are the missing link in treating multiple sclerosis. In this study we have identified a means by which the brain's own stem cells can be encouraged to undertake this repair, opening up the possibility of a new regenerative medicine for this devastating disease.”

Although retinoic acid is a derivative of vitamin A, Prof Franklin said it would be wrong to jump to conclusions about using the vitamin to treat MS.

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