A crucial step by Iranian scientists toward treating MS

MS

Tehran (ISNA) - The Iranian scientists have lately succeeded in transforming certain harmful cells in the nervous system into other types of cells causing the reconstruction of the damaged myelin in patients suffering from Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

The new study, carried out at a joint venture by Tarbiat Modares University, Royan Institute and University of Science and Culture, affiliated to Jahad Daneshgahi, was published in Journal of Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine.

While the chief cause of MS is not yet clear, the underlying mechanism is supposed to be either destruction by the immune system or the failure of the myelin-producing cells.

Myelin is a lipid-rich substance that surrounds the axon of some nervous cells, forming an electrically insulating layer. It is essential for the proper functioning of the nervous system.

The cells that make up myelin are known as oligodendrocytes; however, before this stage, there are cells that are still immature, yet, when they get mature, they can become oligodendrocytes. The immature cells are, in fact, oligodendrocyte precursor cells, or OPCs.

In an interview with SinaPress, Faculty Member at Tarbiat Modares University and the leading author of the new paper Mohammad Javan, PhD, said, “When certain injuries take place in the nerve tissue following trauma or disorders like MS, the damaged site is typically filled with cells dubbed astrocytes, and gets repaired.”

“The current challenge is that as the injury stage is passed, astrocytes remain in the initially damaged area and fill it. Thus, there will be no space for novel cells to be produced and placed there. In this case, MS enters a chronic phase and the astrocyte cells prevent the repairing process of the injured domain.”

“In our study, we converted the astrocytes that accumulate in the so-called sites and prevent the repair of the injured cells, into cells that cause repair,” Javan held.

“We sought to express some type of gene, located in astrocyte cells, that affects the entire genetic network in the cell and changes its nature. To do this, we needed some sort of stimulus and so adopted a certain 5-part cluster of micro-RNAs,” he maintained.

“Now we had to demonstrate that the expression of these micro-RNAs could cause astrocyte cells to convert into OPCs, which after becoming mature to oligodendrocytes would ultimately produce myelin.”

“We inserted this micro-RNA cluster into the brain of some rats suffering from MS; following the required time and certain confirming tests, we saw that the behavioral disorders of the animals improved,” the researcher concluded.

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