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Skin Cells May Help Repair Nerve Damage in MS

February 27, 2018

A new study reveals how a person’s own skin cells could be used to repair nerve damage caused by multiple sclerosis. Researchers from the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom have found that skin cells can be reprogrammed into brain stem cells, then transplanted into the central nervous system. This may reduce inflammation and reverse nerve cell damage in progressive MS.

Scientists conducted the study using adult mice with MS. They reprogrammed their skin cells into neural stem cells and then transplanted them into their cerebrospinal fluid. From there, they found that inflammation was reduced and damage to the central nervous system was repaired.
The idea of this mouse study was that using skin cells from the same person who will be receiving the stem cells will reduce the chance of having the immune system attack the stem cells.

A link between higher and normal levels of small metabolite, called succinate, and chronic MS were found in the mouse study. The metabolite is what prompts macrophages and microglia to create inflammation in the cerebrospinal fluid.

“Our mouse study suggests that using a patient’s reprogrammed cells could provide a route to personalized treatment of chronic inflammatory diseases, including progressive forms of MS,” said Stefano Pluchino, lead author of the study and a principal researcher in Cambridge’s Department of Clinical Neurosciences.

Since skin cells should be readily obtainable than conventional neural stem cells, Pluchino said their strategy could offer a promising treatment for MS as well as other neurological diseases.