While medicine that can help the body heal itself only appears to be science
fiction, an approach involving stem cells is now under proper assessment
as a possible treatment for multiple sclerosis (MS).
MS is a disease in which the immune system helps deteriorate the protective
covering of nerves, resulting in nerve damage that disrupts communication
from the brain to the body and vice versa. This disease affects around
2.3 million people around the world.
While there are multiple forms of MS, which are associated with a variety
of symptoms, it appears the underlying issue is damage to the insulation
surrounding the nerves, called myelin, and the cells which produce it,
called oligodendrocytes. The insulation loss creates communication disorders
throughout the entire nervous system.
Current treatment of MS often involves an attempt to relieve the symptoms
that occur from the communication defect or control the immune system
to curb disease activity. Despite the effectiveness of these treatments,
they do not prevent the progression of the chronic illness.
According to a published study in the scientific journal Nature, treatment
is being developed based on the stimulation of myelin production. The
idea is to find a way to stimulate stem cells to repair the damaged insulation,
since neural stem cells have the ability to renew themselves and produce
multiple cell types, including oligodendrocytes.
Dr. Paul Tesar and his scientific team sought to find drugs that could
specifically stimulate the maturation of central nervous system stem cells
to create myelin-producing oligodendrocytes. After screen about 700 different
drugs which had been previously used in U.S. Food and Drug Administration
(FDA)-approved clinical trials, Dr. Tesar’s team identified two
substances: Miconazole and clobetasol.
Miconazole is an ingredient found in over-the-counter treatments for fungal
infections, including athlete’s foot. Clobetasol is a topical corticosteroid
that is used for multiple skin conditions.
When these substances were used in animal models of MS, not only were they
able to stimulate the differentiation of stem cells into mature oligodendrocytes,
they also stimulated the development of new insulation (myelin), reversing
disease severity altogether. Even though not all adult tissues found in
our body possess stem cells, this plan may very well change the way MS
It is still too early to say if these drugs will be the effective medicine
against MS; however, the discovery of Dr. Tesar offers hope that the successful
MS drugs are on the horizon.
For more information about our stem cell therapy, contact Arizona Center
for Advanced Medicine today.