A new volume co-edited by Ian Duncan, professor of neurology at the UW School of Veterinary Medicine, describes cutting-edge research on potential treatments for multiple sclerosis (MS), a debilitating disease that afflicts as many as 350,000 people in the United States and more than 10,000 in Wisconsin.
In patients with MS, the body’s immune system attacks the myelin sheath that surrounds axons, long fibers that extend from nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. The resulting damage to the myelin sheath (demyelination) slows or blocks electrical impulses, which prevents effective communication between the brain and spinal cord via electrical signals and leads to a variety of neurologic symptoms.
Recent advances have been made in therapies that use medicine to alter this immune response, and new discoveries of genes linked to MS susceptibility have also laid the groundwork for other therapeutic approaches. However, in Myelin Repair and Neuroprotection in Multiple Sclerosis (Springer, 2012), the first book to be published on the topic, Duncan, co-editor Robin Franklin, and an assemblage of other experts tread new ground, highlighting recent advances in the regeneration of myelin (remyelination) and the protection of axons.
“Experimental approaches to remyelination are on the cusp of being translated into clinical use for treatment of MS,” said Duncan.
Duncan calls the book, which took four years to complete, a “labor of love” and the last book he intends to edit due to the logistical challenges inherent in such projects.
“However, I am pleased with the outcome,” he said. “The chapters are well written by world leaders in the field, and the work takes us another step closer to a new chapter in the treatment of MS.”