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A molecular key for delaying the progression of Multiple Sclerosis is found

Date:Source:University of the Basque CountrySummary:In the lab it was possible to improve the symptoms in the chronic phase of the disease while encouraging the repair of the nervous tissue, and the challenge now is to move the research forward in humans.

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Multiple Sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that attacks and destroys a structure known as the "myelin sheath," whose integrity is indispensable for the brain and spinal cord to function properly.

Current treatment of Multiple Sclerosis is based on modulating the activity of the immune system or preventing its cells from accessing the central nervous system and damaging it. These therapies are effective in the early phases of the disease, but they do not prevent its advance and the progressive functional deterioration.

During the progressive phase of the disease it is the microglial cells in the brain that are the main cause of the chronic inflammation responsible for the neurological deterioration. These microglial cells are the brain's sentries and react when faced with any damage or infection in it. This reaction, which is in principle beneficial, becomes harmful when it is prolonged over time, leading to chronic inflammation, and aggravates the disease and encourages its progression.

In the work just published it was possible to identify a receptor known as P2X4 present in the microglial cells that increases their anti-inflammatory potential in order to reduce the damage in Multiple Sclerosis and, above all, encourage the body's own repair responses.

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A constellation of symptoms presages first definitive signs of multiple sclerosis

During the five years before people develop the first clinically recognized signs of Multiple Sclerosis (MS), they are up to four times more likely to be treated for nervous system disorders such as pain or sleep problems, and are 50 per cent more likely to visit a psychiatrist, according to new research from the University of British Columbia.

The study, the largest-ever effort to document symptoms of people before they know they have MS, could enable physicians to diagnose the disease -- and thus start treating it -- earlier, thus possibly slowing the damage it causes to the brain and spinal cord.

MS results from the body's immune system attacking myelin, the fatty material that insulates neurons and enables rapid transmission of electrical signals. When myelin is damaged, communication between the brain and other parts of the body is disrupted, leading to vision problems, muscle weakness, difficulty with balance and coordination, and cognitive impairments.

Because the symptoms are varied, often associated with other disorders, and can be transitory, diagnosing MS can be a challenge. Confirmation of the disease usually is done by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), a test of nerve impulses, or an examination of spinal fluid.

Canada has one of the highest rate of MS in the world, for reasons that elude scientists.

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Vitamin D no defense against dementia

New research from South Australian scientists has shown that vitamin D (also commonly known as the sunshine vitamin) is unlikely to protect individuals from Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease or other brain-related disorders.

The findings, released today in the science journal Nutritional Neuroscience reported that researchers had failed to find solid clinical evidence for vitamin D as a protective neurological agent.

"Our work counters an emerging belief held in some quarters suggesting that higher levels of vitamin D can impact positively on brain health," says lead author Krystal Iacopetta, PhD candidate at the University of Adelaide.

Based on a systematic review of over 70 pre-clinical and clinical studies, MS Iacopetta investigated the role of vitamin D across a wide range of neurodegenerative diseases.

"Past studies had found that patients with a neurodegenerative disease tended to have lower levels of vitamin D compared to healthy members of the population," she says.

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