Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a debilitating disease of the central nervous system. A demyelinating disease, in MS brain and spinal cord cells are disrupted since the protective covering surrounding nerve cells, the myelin sheath, is damaged.



NYSCF's Latest Research on Multiple Sclerosis

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

NYSCF Scientists one step closer to cell replacement therapies for MS

For the first time, NYSCF scientists generated induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells lines from skin samples of patients with primary progressive multiple sclerosis and further, they developed an accelerated protocol to induce these stem cells into becoming oligodendrocytes, the myelin-forming cells of the central nervous system implicated in multiple sclerosis and many other diseases.  
These stem cell lines will allow researchers to “turn back the clock” and observe how multiple sclerosis develops and progresses, potentially revealing the onset of the disease at a cellular level long before any symptoms are displayed. The improved protocol for deriving oligodendrocyte cells will also provide a platform for disease modeling, drug screening, and for replacing the damaged cells in the brain with healthy cells generated using this method.
Read the press release >>
Read the paper in Stem Cell Reports >>
Read the paper in Nature Protocols >>


Wednesday, 17 April 2014

Scientists upend 160 years of neuroanatomy with new finding


NYSCF - Robertson Stem Cell Investigator Dr. Paola Arlotta, of Harvard University, has made an exciting breakthough and paradigm shift in the basic understanding of neuroanatomy. Her research team discovered that myelin, the fatty coating that insulates nerves and neurons long though to be consistently distributed among all neurons, actually differs in distribution depending on where neurons are located in the brain. Further, the scientists discovered that more sophisticated neurons actually have less myelin that more ancestral neurons.

This finding upends 160 years of neuroanatomy understanding and opens up new avenues of understanding brain function as well as demyleinating diseases such as multiple sclerosis and schizophrenia among many others.

Read more from the Harvard Stem Cell Institute >>
Read more in The Guardian >>
Read the paper in Science >>

Monday, April 15th, 2013

NYSCF Investigators generate new cells to study multiple sclerosis: A Conversation with Paul Tesar and Marius Wernig

At our annual Innovator's retreat, our 2010 NYSCF -- Robertson Stem Cell Investigators Paul Tesar, PhD, of Case Western University, and Marius Wernig, MD, PhD, of Stanford University, discovered that they were working on the same topic, the direct conversion of skin cells into myelin-producing cells, called oligodendrocytes. That conversation led to the back-to-back publication of two studies in Nature Biotechnology. We spoke with Marius and Paul on how they worked together to publish this exciting discovery that could inform the treatment of multiple sclerosis and other myelin disorders.


Friday, May 10th April 2013

Shining a light on MS: NYSCF Investigator profiled


Multiple Sclerosis Discovery Forum followed NYSCF -- Helmsley Investigator Valentina Fossati, PhD, on her quest that is as scientific as personal. When she turned 30, Fossati was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), an intreactable neurological disease. She shifted the focus of her stem cell research accordingly, with the goal to find better treatments and even a cure for MS.

Read the full article on Multiple Sclerosis Discovery Forum >>


Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a demyelinating disease of the brain and the spinal cord, meaning that the disease causes damage to the myelin sheath, the protective covering that surrounds nerve cells. When this protective sheath is damaged, nerve signals slow down or stop. As a result, MS patients have difficulty with movement as well as other symptoms. In a healthy brain, cells called oligodendrocytes help the nerve cells carry electrical signals to other parts of the brain and body to control movement, heartbeat, breathing, and other physical impulses. In MS patients, oligodendrocytes and eventually nerve fibers are damaged, failing to conduct these electrical signals properly, which can lead to severe physical and cognitive disabilities. There is no known cure to the disease and what exactly causes MS is unknown. The most common thought is that autoimmunity, a virus or genetic predisposition, leads to this disease. Environmental factors may also play a role.

There are at least three major forms of MS: primary progressive, secondary progressive and relapsing remitting. Unquestionably, neurodegeneration is responsible for the accumulation of neurological disabilities in patients affected by the progressive forms. Current treatments are able to decrease and sometimes stop the acute inflammation in the most common, relapsing remitting form, but, to date, there is no treatment for either type of progressive form of the disease. MS is the most common cause of non-traumatic neurological disabilities in young adults, affecting over 400,000 people in the United States and over 2.5 million people worldwide.

Learn more about stem cells:

Stem Cells 101 | Videos | Stem Cell News


How can stem cell research help us find better treatments and cures for Multiple Sclerosis?

NYSCF scientists take a unique approach to researching MS by creating a live, human model of the disease in the laboratory. Through collaborations with MS clinicians and treatment centers, MS patients have already been recruited to donate skin cells. These cells are then reprogrammed to create iPS cells, capable of becoming every cell type in the body.

To shed light on the causes of MS, scientists must study the actual cells damaged in the brain, previously only possible through highly invasive brain biopsies. NYSCF scientists, instead, through a lengthy and complicated process known as differentiation, employ iPS cells to generate neurons and oligodendrocytes affected by MS in a dish, mimicking the stressors that occur in a lesion, to seek the original trigger of degeneration. By comparing cells from healthy individuals to those from MS patients, this research will facilitate identification of still-unknown genetic predispositions to MS.

Multiple sclerosis is very difficult to study in people. Dr. Valentina Fossati, NYSCF – Helmsley Researcher, leads the NYSCF MS team, using multiple kinds of stem cells including iPS cells, disease models “in a dish” recapitulate what happens in the central nervous system and can provide insights into how to treat this disease.

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