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Study Yields New Clues to Stopping MS Progression

July 19, 2019

Collaborating researchers from New York City report that the spinal fluid of people with progressive MS dramatically inhibited the ability of rodent nerve cells isolated in lab dishes to produce energy, while spinal fluid from people with relapsing-remitting MS did not. Further research showed that the spinal fluid from people with progressive MS had increased levels of lipid molecules known as ceramides, and that exposing the nerve cells to ceramides alone similarly impaired their ability to uptake glucose and make energy. This adds important details to growing evidence that nerve cells’ tiny powerplants, called mitochondria, malfunction during the course of progressive MS.

The team plans to validate these findings in larger numbers of people and explore whether the inability of nerve cells to keep up with the demand for energy production drives the loss of nerve cells in MS, and thus MS progression. They also are exploring strategies for stopping this energy malfunction to rescue nerve cells.

This research was supported by the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP) and the MS Research Program at the Department of Defense.

Read more from the Advanced Science Research Center at The Graduate Center, CUNY

Read the paper in the journal Brain

About Multiple Sclerosis

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.

About the National Multiple Sclerosis Society

The National MS Society, founded in 1946, is the global leader of a growing movement dedicated to creating a world free of MS. The Society funds cutting-edge research for a cure, drives change through advocacy and provides programs and services to help people affected by MS live their best lives. Connect to learn more and get involved:, Facebook, X, formerly known as Twitter, Instagram, YouTube or 1-800-344-4867.


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