Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is a debilitating neurological disorder that affects young adults. It is a complex and frustrating disease with relapses, remissions and— finally—progression to a chronic stage that is devastating to the patient, causing paralysis and other severe neuromuscular dysfunction.

The cause of the disease is essentially unknown. Treatment is difficult due to the variability of progression in different patients. In general, multiple sclerosis is considered an autoimmune disease in which the patient's own immune system attacks the myelin sheath that normally surrounds and protects nerve cells. Regardless of the origins of this disease, the treatment strategy focuses on coping with acute episodes and preventing progression to the point of disability. Regrettably, available therapeutics do not adequately satisfy these needs.

Sanford-Burnham research on multiple sclerosis

Research at Sanford-Burnham is focused on a number of critical areas that will provide key insights into the onset and progression of multiple sclerosis.

The areas being studied are:

  • Basic mechanisms that build and maintain the myelin sheath to understand the function and stability of this protective nerve layer.
  • The function and activation of enzymes that allow penetration and autoimmune attack of the central nervous system.
  • An antibody that may be useful to block inflammation in multiple sclerosis.
  • Neuroprotective agents that prevent nerve damage during the chronic stage of multiple sclerosis
  • Cell replacement therapies to promote remyelination.

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