Brain Boosting Multiple Sclerosis Treatments Benefit Patients

Increased neuron activity helps to protect nerve fibers.

Increased neuron activity helps to protect nerve fibers.

Treatments that increase brain function may provide benefits for multiple sclerosis (MS) patients in the future, the results of a recent study found.

The study, published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, examined how increased neuron activity can stimulate the production of a substance that protects nerve fibers, which could lead to new treatments.

"The more we learn about how myelin production happens in the brain, the more chance we have of developing effective and targeted therapies to repair myelin in people with MS,” Emma Gray, head of Biomedical Research at the MS Society, said in a press release.

Because multiple sclerosis involves damage to myelin sheaths, researchers sought to determine how brain activity controls myelin production by specialist cells.

The study evaluated how neuron activity changes affect the amount of myelin that is produced in the brains of zebrafish. The researchers found that a reduction in brain function decreased myelin production.

Likewise, myelin production jumped by approximately 40% when neuronal activity was increased, the researchers found.

Prior to the development of new therapies, further evaluations are necessary regarding how brain function controls the complex processes by which nerve fibers are coated with myelin.

"We have a long way to go before we fully understand how our brain activity regulates myelin production, but the fact that this is even something that the brain can do is a good news story,” study lead David Lyons, MD, said in a press release. “We are hopeful that one day in the future we may be able to translate this type of discovery to help treat disease and to maintain a healthy nervous system through life."