Researchers Reverse Aspects of Aging to Increase Myelin Repair in Rats
November 5, 2019
Researchers from the UK and Australia have found a way to make rat brain cells act more youthful, reversing some of the loss of healing capacity that normally comes with older age.
Multiple sclerosis involves immune attacks that damage brain tissues, including the myelin coating on nerve fibers. The brain has its own resident stem cells, called OPCs, that can initiate myelin repair after damage. Robin Franklin, PhD, of the University of Cambridge, and others had previously shown that with greater age, OPCs lose the capacity to initiate myelin repair.
In a paper published in October 2019
in the journal Cell Stem Cell,
Dr. Franklin and colleagues reported that in old rats, fasting made OPCs act more youthful, regaining capacity to repair myelin. The team also found that a diabetes drug called metformin, which can mimic some biological aspects of fasting, was able to reverse age-related changes to rat OPCs and increased their capacity to initiate myelin repair.
This study was funded in part by the UK MS Society. More research is underway to translate these important findings in rats into a myelin repair strategy for people living with MS.
Dr. Franklin was the recipient of the Barancik Prize for Innovation in MS Research
Read more on the Cambridge Website
Read the original paper in Cell Stem Cell
Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable disease of the central nervous system. Currently there is no cure. Symptoms vary from person to person and may include disabling fatigue, mobility challenges, cognitive changes, and vision issues. An estimated 1 million people live with MS in the United States. Early diagnosis and treatment are critical to minimize disability. Significant progress is being made to achieve a world free of MS.