Jan 17, 2002
The Cleveland Clinic
CLEVELAND, Jan. 17 (AScribe Newswire) -- The brain can replace cells destroyed by multiple sclerosis much longer than previously believed, according to Cleveland Clinic research to be published in the January 17, 2002, issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
The research, directed by Bruce D. Trapp, Ph.D., and chairman of the Department of Neurosciences at The Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute, provides new insight about potential therapy to treat people who have multiple sclerosis. Multiple sclerosis is a disorder of the central nervous system associated with the formation of scars on the covering of nerve cells. The disorder affects approximately one in every 1,000 people and most commonly begins between the ages of 20 and 40.
"We have known for decades that the brain can repair the lesions of multiple sclerosis during the disease's early stages. We have assumed that the brain did not repair the lesions during more chronic stages of multiple sclerosis because we believed the new cells were not being generated," Dr. Trapp said.
"What we discovered in this research is that the brain is producing the appropriate cells and that these cells are making significant attempts to repair the lesions. Unfortunately, these cells are falling short of their goal. Our data suggest that we may not have to add new cells to repair MS lesions. Instead, we may be able to manipulate the cells produced by the brain so the cells complete the repair process," Dr. Trapp concluded.
The findings are the result of research on tissue samples from the brains of 10 deceased people who had suffered from multiple sclerosis. Researchers examined 48 chronic multiple sclerosis lesions for oligodendrocytes, the cells that produce myelin. Myelin is the insulation that surrounds the nerve fibers in the central nervous system. It is a prime target of destruction in MS brains.
Researchers discovered that 34 of the 48 chronic lesions contained the cells that produce myelin. These cells associated with the nerve fibers but they failed to replace the myelin. The cells were detected in lesions from patients who had MS for as long as 44 years.
"This research is very exciting and significant because it identifies a new therapeutic approach for repair and recovery," said Richard Rudick, M.D. and Director of the Cleveland Clinic Mellen Center for Multiple Sclerosis Treatment and Research. Dr. Rudick is a co-investigator in the study.
"The findings also give us reason to believe there is long window of opportunity for this type of treatment in our patients," Dr. Rudick concluded.
Home to more than 120 principal investigators, the Lerner Research Institute is the research division of The Cleveland Clinic. Throughout its eight departments - Biomedical Engineering, Cancer Biology, Cell Biology, Immunology, Molecular Biology, Molecular Cardiology, Neurosciences and Virology - Lerner Research Institute investigators conduct direct investigations in basic, developmental and clinical research.
The Cleveland Clinic Foundation, founded in 1921, integrates clinical and hospital care with research and education in a private, not-for-profit group practice. Approximately 1,100 full-time salaried physicians at The Cleveland Clinic and Cleveland Clinic Florida represent more than 100 medical specialties and subspecialties. In 2000, there were more than 2 million outpatient visits to The Cleveland Clinic Foundation. Patients came for treatment from every state and from more than 80 countries. There were more than 51,000 hospital admissions to The Cleveland Clinic Foundation in 2000. The Cleveland Clinic website address is http://www.clevelandclinic.org.
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