July 10, 2002
Sara M. Bernstein
Research Programs Department
Jeffery D. Kocsis, PhD (Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven) and colleagues report that injecting cells from the thigh bone of rats into their veins repairs areas of damage to myelin (the substance that insulates nerve fibers and is damaged in MS) in their spinal cords. This study was funded in part by a National MS Society Pilot Research Award, which supports investigation of novel ideas that may open significant new areas of research on MS. The paper appears in the September 2002 issue of Glia, but is available online in advance.
Bone marrow (spongy tissue found in bones) contains stem cells, immature cells that are capable of giving rise to other types of cells, including myelin-making cells. (Bone marrow stem cells can also give rise to immune cells, leading to the consideration of bone marrow transplantation as an experimental therapy for MS.) Following injection of bone marrow cells, Dr. Kocsis and colleagues observed that a substantial amount of myelin repair occurred, along with improved nerve signal conduction in the myelin-repaired nerve fibers.
The mechanism for this repair is yet unknown, and much further study
is needed in animal models and humans to determine whether this research
can yield a safe and effective strategy for myelin repair in people with
© 2002 The National Multiple Sclerosis Society