Multiple Sclerosis is a neurological condition that affects the transfer of messages from the central nervous system to the rest of the body. There is currently no cure and treatment is centred on ameliorating symptoms. It is the most common neurological disorder among young adults, and affects many thousands of people in Europe.
There is hope on the horizon however. Researchers at Bristol University say that their work may – in the next ten years – lead to the development of new drugs to treat the disease. The team found that mice with higher levels of galanin, a protein within brain nerve cells, were resistant to Multiple Sclerosis. Scientists already knew that galanin plays a protective role in both the central and peripheral nerve systems – when a nerve is injured levels of galanin increase dramatically in an attempt to limit cell death. But now researchers have effectively proved that mice that were given high levels of galanin don’t develop Multiple Sclerosis. David Wynick, Professor of molecular medicine at Bristol University said: “We looked at galanin levels in a human brain from patients that had sadly died from MS and then we gave mice multiple sclerosis as well. Essentially we have shown the same thing as in Alzheimer’s disease; levels of galanin rise in plaques of brain in MS patients and we now know that that is a good thing. High levels of galanin in the mice protect completely from MS – you just cannot induce disease in them at all. In contrast, mice that had no galanin had much more severe disease that occurs earlier.” The team now hopes to produce a drug which mimics the effects of galanin and which could be used to slow down or even halt the progress of multiple sclerosis. It will take many years, but there’s hope on the horizon. For more information about MS see: