MS is basically a chronic disease that attacks the optic nerves, spinal cord and the brain, which results to irreparable damage to the central nervous system in the long run. Aside from causing a significant decrease in brain function, it also promotes vision loss and paralysis.
Now while there is still no known cure for this disease, the results of a recent University of Cambridge study could put the medical world on the right track to finally finding one.
Vitamin D and Multiple Sclerosis
According to the findings gathered by the researchers of the MS Society Cambridge Centre for Myelin Repair led by Professor Robin Franklin published in the Journal of Cell Biology, the protein in Vitamin D receptors combine with a type of protein called RXR gamma receptor when they get absorbed by the body.
RXR gamma receptors have been found to play a key role in the repair of myelin, the surrounding barrier that protects nerve fibers from deterioration and damage. These nerve fibers tend become impaired when MS sets in and eventually causes them to function no more when the disease gets really aggressive.
Franklin and his team discovered that supplementing Vitamin D to the areas where RXR gamma receptors are present helps increase the body’s natural production of myelin making cells called oligodendrocytes by as much as 80%.
The faster these oligodendrocytes are produced in the body, the stronger the nerve fibers become, which make them more resilient to the effects of MS, namely severe fatigue, sudden bouts of pain as well as balance and mobility issues.
Professor Franklin, who is also affiliated with the Wellcome Trust-Medical Research Council Stem Cell Institute, adds that their findings could be the stepping stone to the development of a drug that has the ability to pick up the pace on myelin regeneration by targeting the receptors of Vitamin D.
MS Society Cambridge Centre for Myelin Repair’s head of Biomedical Research, Dr. Susan Kohlhaas points out that although they are still in early stage research, they are optimistic about the further data that they will uncover in the near future.
She emphasizes that while a lot of work still needs to be done, they’ve already come across a vital piece of the puzzle that could help them discover a cure for MS along the way.