June 7, 2004
Agence France Presse
An Australian university researcher announced a breakthrough Monday in efforts to develop a vaccine that can help repair damage done to the nervous system by Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
Tana Karnezis, a fellow at Melbourne's La Trobe University, found that inhibiting or removing a protein which prevents spinal nerve regeneration can significantly delay the onset of an MS-like condition in mice.
The research also suggests that the protein, known as Nogo A, may have a hand in initiating MS, Karnezis said in a paper published online Monday in "Nature Neuroscience".
Claude Bernard, director of Latrobe's Neuroimmunology Laboratory who oversaw the project, said the work opened a range of new possibilities for treating MS.
"This is a very exciting new development in the field of MS," he said.
"We have been working on a vaccine which could help stop the deterioration of the disease and may help restore some of the brain function," he said.
Bernard said clinical trials could begin with within the next two years.
The breakthrough was a result of applying knowledge gained from research into spinal cord injuries to MS, a degenerative disease of the nerves of the spinal cord and brain.
The disease has become the most common cause of paralysis in Western
countries since the eradication of polio and generally strikes people between
the ages of 20 and 40.
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