London: British researchers said today they
may have found a way to reverse damage in the central nervous
system caused by multiple sclerosis, in a study hailed by
campaigners as a major breakthrough.
The study by scientists at the universities of Cambridge
and Edinburgh has raised hopes of a new treatment within 15
years for the disabling neurological condition, which affects
millions of people worldwide.
The team identified a mechanism essential to regenerating
myelin sheaths -- the layers of insulation that protect nerve
fibres in the brain -- and showed how it could be used to make
the brain`s own stem cells undertake this repair.
The loss of myelin in MS sufferers leads to damage to the
nerve fibres in the brain that send messages to other parts of
the body, leading to symptoms ranging from mild numbness to
"Therapies that repair damage are the missing link in
treating multiple sclerosis," said Professor Robin Franklin,
director of the MS Society`s Cambridge Centre for Myelin
Repair at the University of Cambridge.
"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."
Britain`s MS Society, which part funded the research
along with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society in the
United States, hailed the study and said it could lead to
clinical trials within five years and treatment within 15