It sounds like something out of Star Trek, but NanoWerk reports that new research at Northwestern Medicine is working with biodegradable nanoparticles as a vehicle to deliver a myelin antigen that “tricks the immune system into stopping its attack on myelin.” This therapy is different in that it does not compromise the body’s entire immune system as most current drug therapies do, but rather “re-sets,” the immune system into stopping the destructive process of MS. What is most exciting about this new therapy is that is can be applied to other immune-mediated diseases like diabetes, food allergies and asthma. Stephen Miller, one of the authors of the study, says, “The holy grail is to develop a therapy that is specific to the pathological immune response, in this case the body attacking myelin.” Read more here.
Whether or not this is yet another miracle cure, like CCSVI was touted to be, remains to be seen. But it is an exciting idea. There are several therapies currently being studied that aim at similar targets – more focused approaches designed to convince the body to stop the destructive activity of multiple sclerosis and, instead, turn toward repairing the damage that has been done. These are, in the end, cures. They not only stop the progression of the disease, but use the body’s energies to repair what damage has been done.
The Multiple Sclerosis Research Center of New York (as mentioned previously here) is now engaged in a clinical study of a stem cell therapy, using neural cells derived from the patient’s bone marrow to stop and possibly reverse the process of MS.
There is work being done at the Oregon Health & Sciences University to find a mechanism that will block the action of a particular enzyme that is only found in the brains of people with multiple sclerosis, stoke, and other similar conditions. If these enzymes can be blocked, the brain will be able to repair itself.
It is encouraging that researchers are finally turning to focus on treatments for the later stages of multiple sclerosis. These treatments can amount, essentially, to cures, and will dramatically improve the lives of those of us living with the symptoms of those later stages. These treatments will also lead to treatments for other auto-immune diseases. Brave new, and hopeful, world!