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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 in 2017.
Read more on the Cambridge Website
Read the original paper in Cell Stem Cell

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are leading to better understanding and moving us closer to a world free of MS. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with at least two to three times more women than men being diagnosed with the disease. MS affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide.


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