Nerve Damage in MS Patients

Multiple sclerosis patient's nerves need protection

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Reasearch studies indicate damaged nerves are a main cause of multiple sclerosis (MS) - a disease that makes patients disabled over time. In a new study, researchers discovered one process that causes nerve damage. Eventually, this process may be a new target for treating MS.

Researchers found that nerve cells can become damaged even when they are still protected by the myelin sheath - a layer that speeds up nerve signals. It is commonly thought that one of the main reasons MS patients become disabled is because of damage to the myelin sheath.

However, this new study shows that MS patients can still experience nerve damage and disability even if the myelin sheath is healthy.

"A discovery about nerve damage could lead to new treatments for MS patients."

This finding could explain why some patients' MS symptoms suddenly disappear. If spotted early, nerve damage can be reversed, explains Martin Kerschensteiner from the University of Munich.

While this discovery could lead to new treatments for MS, Kerschensteiner says much more time and research is needed before any new drugs will be available. The researchers found that focal axonal degeneration causes nerve damage, Kerschensteiner notes that they have yet to find out how the process leads nerve damage.

In Depth

  • In a study on mice, researchers discovered a new type of axonal degeneration (the deterioration of parts of the nervous system) called focal axonal degeneration.
  • Focal axonal degeneration is a process that can damage nerve cells even when they are still protected by a myelin layer. This suggests that the myelin sheath does not need to be damaged before cells can be damaged.
Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
April 13, 2011
Last Updated:
April 14, 2011