07 November 2012

Blocking the enzyme will help with multiple sclerosis

Researchers at the Oregon Health and Science University, working under the guidance of Professor Larry Sherman, have found that blocking the activity of a certain enzyme in brain tissue can resist axon demyelination – damage characteristic of multiple sclerosis and a number of other neurological diseases, as well as being a complication of prematurity. Demyelination is a process of destruction of the protective layer of the myelin protein, which is a kind of insulation for nerve fibers. This process leads to a deterioration in the interaction between neurons and, accordingly, a number of motor, sensory and cognitive disorders.

Sherman's laboratory has been studying multiple sclerosis and other pathologies accompanied by demyelination for more than 14 years. In 2005, scientists found that the accumulation of hyaluronic acid occurs in the areas of demyelination of the spinal cord and brain of humans and animals. The results indicated that hyaluronic acid prevents the restoration of the myelin sheath by locally blocking the differentiation of myelin-producing cells.

The results of the latest work demonstrated that hyaluronic acid itself does not interfere with the differentiation of myelin-producing cells. The "bad guy" turned out to be a decay product formed when this compound is cleaved by the enzyme hyaluronidase.

The level of this enzyme is significantly increased in the foci of demyelination in patients with multiple sclerosis and animals with a simulated disease. Experiments on a mouse model have shown that blocking the activity of hyaluronidase promotes the differentiation of myelin-producing cells and the restoration of the myelin sheath, which is accompanied by an improvement in the functioning of neurons.

The drugs used in the experiments cannot be used in clinical practice, as they can cause serious side effects, so the next stage of the study will be the development of non-toxic drugs for humans that selectively inhibit hyaluronidase. Sherman and colleagues plan to test the effectiveness of such drugs on great apes with a spontaneously developing disease, which is an analogue of multiple sclerosis. The positive results of such an experiment will be a weighty argument in favor of the feasibility of conducting clinical trials.

However, the authors warn that their results do not indicate the possibility of a cure for multiple sclerosis, since many other factors are involved in the development of this and other demyelinating diseases. However, at least the new approach will improve the effectiveness of existing treatment methods by stimulating the restoration of damaged myelin sheath.

Article by Larry Sherman et al. in the near future it will be published in the online version of the journal Annals of Neurology.

Evgeniya Ryabtseva
Portal "Eternal youth" http://vechnayamolodost.ru based on materials from Oregon Health & Science University:
OHSU researchers discover how enzyme may prevent nervous system repair in multiple sclerosis.


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