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Friday, February 1, 2019

Visual Guide to Your Nervous System

Your Command Central

Made up of billions of nerve cells called neurons, your nervous system is what lets you do everything from breathe to walk to dream. It has two main parts: the central nervous system, which includes the brain and spinal cord, and the peripheral nervous system (all the other nerves in your body).
man shooting hoops

Who's Running the Show?

Your nervous system works both on autopilot and with you in control. A voluntary action is something that takes conscious thought, like when you walk or clap your hands. That uses the somatic nerves. Involuntary actions are things like your heartbeat that happen whether or not you're thinking or doing anything about it. That's the autonomic system.
sprinting man

Sympathetic Nervous System

This part of your autonomic system is in charge of your body's "fight or flight" response. When you come across a threat, your sympathetic nervous system kicks into gear, quickly changing body processes like your breathing and heart rate so that you have extra energy and are ready to face the danger or run away.
man relaxing at desk

Parasympathetic Nervous System

The other part of your autonomic system has the opposite effect. It's the brake pedal to the sympathetic nervous system's gas pedal. It takes over with the "rest and digest" response to bring you back to normal after the danger has passed.
mom driving car

Don't Drain Your Brain

Stress that doesn't let up leaves your sympathetic nervous system on alert. And over time, that can lead to you losing your mental sharpness. You may take longer to react to things and make more errors. (High levels of stress also affect your physical health, including weakening your immune system and raising your chance of heart disease.)
close up of neuron connections


They're how your brain and body "talk" to each other. These nerve cells use special parts to communicate. The axon releases a chemical called a neurotransmitter that's picked up by the dendrite of another neuron, where it's turned into an electrical signal. Sensory neurons respond to things like sound, smell, and touch and deliver the info to your brain. Motor neurons bring messages from your brain to your muscles.

nervous system illustration

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Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Multiple sclerosis – helping cells to help themselves

Multiple sclerosis -- Helping cells to help themselves
Mouse myelin repair cells (oligodendrocytes) in a petri dish. These cells produce myelin (green), which they then use to repair the myelin sheaths around nerve cells. Blue staining depicts nuclei. Credit: Staroßom/Charité
Diseases such as multiple sclerosis are characterized by damage to the myelin sheath, a protective covering wrapped around nerve cells akin to insulation around an electrical wire. Researchers from Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin have discovered how the body initiates repair mechanisms to limit the extent of any damage to this sheath. Their findings, which provide a basis for the development of new drugs to treat multiple sclerosis, have been published in Nature Communications.
Multiple sclerosis is the most common autoimmune disease of the central nervous system. Estimates suggest that more than 200,000 people are affected by the disease in Germany alone. People with  experience vision and sensory problems, as well as impaired coordination or even paralysis. These symptoms are caused by the disruption of nerve impulses in either the brain or the spinal cord. This disruption occurs when the body's immune system attacks the myelin sheath, which is wrapped around the body's nerve fibers and provides electrical insulation. When the myelin sheath is no longer intact, communication between nerve cells is impaired. Researchers across the globe are searching for new ways to repair the myelin sheath and, in doing so, are looking to reduce  in people with multiple sclerosis. Researchers from Charité have now moved a decisive step closer to this goal.
Charité's research team decided to take a closer look at the body's innate ability to heal itself, knowing that, under certain conditions, the central nervous system is capable of repairing damage to the . Specific molecular signals enable stem cells to differentiate into myelin repair cells (oligodendrocytes), which reside in a small stem-cell niche in the brain. Once they leave this niche, these repair cells migrate to where myelin damage has occurred in order to restore the affected nerve cells' electrical insulation. Until now, very little had been known about the molecular signals responsible for initiating this myelin regeneration mechanism. "We have found that the Chi3l3 protein plays a central role in the body's capacity to produce new myelin-forming oligodendrocytes," says the study's first author, Dr. Sarah-Christin Staroßom of Charité's Institute for Medical Immunology. A researcher at the NeuroCure Cluster of Excellence and the Experimental and Clinical Research Center (ECRC), Dr. Staroßom explains the protein's role as follows: "The Chi3l3 protein initiates the differentiation of neural  into myelin repair cells, which restore the electrical insulation around damaged ."
Using a , the research team were able to show that a reduction in Chi3l3 levels in the brain significantly impairs the body's capacity for oligodendrocyte production, while a Chi3l3 infusion leads to an increase in the production of  repair cells. The same reaction was observed during an in vitro experiment using human . "We hope to use this knowledge to develop a new generation of drugs that can be used in the treatment of multiple sclerosis," explains Dr. Staroßom. "As a next step, we will study in greater detail whether Chi3l3 or related proteins can be used to reduce the neurological symptoms of patients with multiple sclerosis.


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HIT MS HARD and FAST - says new study

By Ed Tobias  -  Jan 29, 2019
New Study Supports Hitting MS Fast and Hard

The question of how quickly to start a disease-modifying therapy (DMT) after a multiple sclerosis (MS) diagnosis is one that I frequently see when I browse online. It goes hand in hand with questions about which DMT is best to start with.

There are many things to consider when making that decision. Recently, I ran across a study that may help you when you’re weighing the benefits and risks of being treated with a DMT. The study, recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, reviewed the records of 1,555 patients who had been diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS).

Any DMT is better than none

The study found that people with RRMS who were initially treated with a glatiramer acetate (CopaxoneGlatopa) or an interferon beta (Avonex, Betaferon, Extavia, Rebif) had a lower risk (12 percent) of progressing to secondary progressive MS (SPMS) than people who received no treatment (27 percent). Those who received fingolimod (Gilenya) also had a lower risk (7 percent versus 32 percent), as did natalizumab(Tysabri) (19 percent versus 38 percent) and alemtuzumab(Lemtrada) (10 percent versus 25 percent).
The risk of moving from RRMS to SPMS was lower when the glatiramer acetate or interferon beta treatment was started quickly, within five years of disease onset.
Additionally, according to the study, treatment with newer DMTs appears to be more effective at slowing advance of the disease than older glatiramer acetate and interferon beta treatments.
“Among patients with relapsing-remitting MS, initial treatment with fingolimod, alemtuzumab, or natalizumab was associated with a lower risk of conversion to secondary progressive MS vs initial treatment with glatiramer acetate or interferon beta,” the study noted.
So, the message is:

Treat MS quickly and effectively

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Gilenya Better at Lowering Relapse Rate than Tecfidera or Aubagio, Study Suggests

Gilenya (fingolimod) is linked to significantly lower annualized relapse rates in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS)patients compared to Tecfidera (dimethyl fumarate) or Aubagio (teriflunomide), a study suggests.
All three therapies showed similar effects on disability outcomes.
Oral immunotherapies — including Novartis’ GilenyaBiogen’s Tecfidera, and Sanofi Genzyme’s Aubagio — are currently standard therapies for RRMS treatment.
But while these therapies are highly effective at modulating MS activity, studies comparing their efficacy on relapse and disability are missing. This is an important point for MS patients, so that if a change in oral therapies is needed (due to lack of tolerance, for example), the decision on a more suitable therapy is based on scientific evidence.
To address this matter, a group of researchers used the MsBase, an international observational MS cohort study, to identify RRMS patients who had been treated with GilenyaTecfidera, or Aubagio for at least three months.
The team compared Tecfidera versus Aubagio, Gilenya versus Aubagio, and Gilenya versus Tecfidera, specifically for the therapy’s impact on relapse activity, six-month disability worsening or improvement, and persistence of treatment.

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Unlocking the Mystery of Remyelination

Unlocking the Mystery of Remyelination
Did you know the immune system has a conflicting effect on remyelination? Acute inflammation is known to facilitate myelin repair, while long-term inflammation has an inhibitory effect. Ever wonder whether or not your diet, how well you sleep, or if drinking alcohol affects myelin production? Were you aware remyelination may be more effective in women than in men? Learn more about the mechanisms behind this regenerative process and the many factors that influence it.

Regenerative Therapies for MS - How Close Are We?
Did you know researchers at Case Western University recently discovered in animal models how to turn ordinary skin cells into ones that successfully generate new myelin? Were you aware researchers in Germany have determined fingolimod (Gilenya) not only reduces nerve inflammation, but also promotes nerve regeneration and improves myelin thickness in mice? Did you see the over-the-counter antioxidant, lipoic acid, has been shown to have clinical benefit by reducing brain atrophy in secondary progressive MS? These and more exciting developments in regenerative therapies for MS are just a click away!
Information showing above was provided by The Accelerated Cure Project

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