University of Wisconsin–Madison

A New Frontier in MS Treatment

New findings from School of Veterinary Medicine researchers challenge the prevailing assumptions about the cause of multiple sclerosis (MS), a brain disease that affects more than 400,000 Americans.

Until now, it’s been widely accepted that when long nerve fibers, called axons, lose their myelin-coated insulation, degeneration occurs causing MS. Focus has been on protecting the axon from demyelination. However, rats with no myelin were recently found to live more than nine months without losing their axons—more than doubling the typical survival rate of rats without myelin.

The study suggests that helper cells in these rats secreted growth factors that aided in neuron survival. A deeper understanding of these helper cell secretions could unlock new avenues of treatment for MS and other myelin-related human diseases. Once again, the School of Veterinary Medicine is at the forefront of exciting advancements where animal and human health intersect.