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Could Remyelination Be Achieved in MS?

November 18, 2015

A recent study published in the journal Molecules and Cells investigated whether sulfasalazine treatment, an anti-inflammatory and immune-modulating drug, could promote remyelination of axons in an organism model of demyelination diseases such as multiple sclerosis.

MS is caused by infiltration of the immune cells that target and destroy myelin. An axon is the long, slender projection from a nerve cell that carries the electric nerve impulses away from the neuron’s cell body, representing the primary transmission lines of the nervous system. The researchers believed that enhancing the axons’ remyelination is a potential therapeutic approach for patients.

Remyelination is the re-generation of myelin, which are the covers that surround the axon of nerve cells. Myelin is essential for a proper functioning nervous system.

The researchers set out to find a method to promote remyelination by using sulfasalazine, an anti-inflammatory drug used in bowel disease. They thought that even though sulfasalazine’s mode of action is unknown, it’s inflammatory and immune responses may promote remyelination.

The researchers treated two different cells with sulfasalazine, and they found that the treatment promoted regeneration in both types of cells. The remyelination process was in fact, mediated by sulfasalazine’s impact on the immune system.

The findings suggest that indeed modulating the immune responses, and specifically those perpetuated by macrophages/microglia, is key for the remyelination process.