Links for Keyword: Multiple Sclerosis

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By Michelle Roberts US scientists are testing a radical new theory that multiple sclerosis (MS) is caused by blockages in the veins that drain the brain. The University of Buffalo team were intrigued by the work of Italian researcher Dr Paolo Zamboni who claims 90% of MS is caused by narrowed veins. He says the restricted drainage, visible on scans, injures the brain leading to MS. He has already widened the blockages in a handful of patients. The US team want to replicate his earlier work before treating patients. Experts welcomed the research saying it was important to confirm the basic science before evaluating any therapy. MS is a long-term inflammatory condition of the central nervous system which affects the transfer of messages from the nervous system to the rest of the body. The Buffalo team, led by Dr Robert Zivadinov, plan to recruit 1,100 patients with MS and 600 other volunteers as controls who are either healthy or have neurological diseases other than MS. Using Doppler ultrasound, they will scan the patients to see if they can find any blockages within the veins of the neck and brain. BBC © MMIX

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals; Chapter 2: Functional Neuroanatomy: The Nervous System and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals; Chapter 2: Cells and Structures: The Anatomy of the Nervous System
Link ID: 13510 - Posted: 06.24.2010

The Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada will finance some research into an experimental Italian treatment but urges patients not to stop treatment until more is known about the procedure.The Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada will finance some research into an experimental Italian treatment but urges patients not to stop treatment until more is known about the procedure. (M. Spencer Green/Associated Press) The Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada will be asking Canadian scientists to propose their own research into a procedure that has ignited the hopes of patients in Europe and North America. The procedure is known as chronic cerebro spinal venous insufficiency, or CCSVI, and involves removing a blockage in the veins that carry blood to and from the brain. An Italian vascular surgeon, Dr. Paolo Zamboni, a professor of medicine at the University of Ferrara in Italy, has reported success in reducing the symptoms of people who suffer from multiple sclerosis. The Canadian MS organization has reacted to Zamboni's research with caution. On Monday, however, the society said that after receiving so many inquiries about the procedure, it has decided to offer a grant to researchers in Canada. Details of the program will be announced Tuesday. In the meantime, the society urged people with MS to be patient and continue with their regular treatment until there is more evidence about the experimental procedure. © CBC 2009

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals
Link ID: 13498 - Posted: 06.24.2010

An experimental drug seems to help some people with multiple sclerosis to walk better, which could improve their quality of life, researchers said. In this week's issue of the medical journal the Lancet, neurologist Dr. Andrew Goodman of the University of Rochester Medical Center and his colleagues reported the results of their trial comparing Acorda Therapeutics' drug fampridine with a placebo. A progressive decline in mobility is a common feature of MS, and there are few pharmaceutical options to complement physiotherapy. "The data suggest that, for a sub-set of MS patients, nervous system function is partially restored while taking the drug," Goodman said in a statement. Goodman has served as a consultant to the company. "As a clinician, I can say that improvement in walking speed could have important psychological value; it may give individuals the potential to regain some of the independence that they may have lost in their daily lives," he added. The study looked at 301 adults in Canada and the U.S. with MS for 14 weeks. About 35 per cent of subjects who previously had trouble walking increased their walking speed after taking fampridine, compared with eight per cent in those randomly assigned to take a placebo. © CBC 2009

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals
Link ID: 12597 - Posted: 06.24.2010

by Linda Geddes For the first time, some of the disability associated with the early stages of multiple sclerosis appears to have been reversed. The treatment works by resetting patients' immune systems using their own stem cells. While randomised clinical trials are still needed to confirm the findings, they offer new hope to people in the early stages of the disease who don't respond to drug treatment. Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease in which the fatty myelin sheath that wraps around nerve cells and speeds up their rate of transmission comes under attack from the body's own defences. Clean slate Richard Burt of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago and his colleagues had previously tried using stem cells to reverse this process in patients with advanced stages of the disease, with little success. "If you wait until there's neuro-degeneration, you're trying to close the barn door after the horse has already escaped," says Burt. What you really want to do is stop the autoimmune attack before it causes nerve-cell damage, he adds. In the latest trial, his team recruited 12 women and 11 men in the early relapsing-remitting stage of MS, who had not responded to treatment with the drug, interferon beta, after six months. © Copyright Reed Business Information Ltd.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 12499 - Posted: 06.24.2010

It started when Levi Barron's right hand curled into a claw shortly after his 13th birthday. Always laid-back, he told his mom that he'd just learn to write with the other hand and not to worry. But the debilitating stiffness crept to his other hand, and soon the athletic hockey player was having trouble walking and even fell a few times. It took four doctors and a stint in hospital, paralyzed from the waist down and so dizzy he couldn't open his eyes without vomiting, for Levi to finally get a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. "I remember just being so frightened and upset that I didn't know that kids got MS," says Karen Barron, Levi's mom. Once thought of as a young adult disease striking people in their 20s or 30s, it is increasingly being recognized that multiple sclerosis can actually emerge much earlier, says Jon Temme, vice-president of client services and research for the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada. "Certainly the likelihood of a child being diagnosed accurately is much greater now than it would have been a decade ago." © CBC 2009

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 12453 - Posted: 06.24.2010

By Sandra G. Boodman Whenever doctors told Ruben Galiano that his wife, Olga, had multiple sclerosis, he tried not to look as though he didn't believe them. To the former hotel cook, her symptoms resembled those he had seen in stroke patients. And the MS medication she had been taking hadn't done a thing. But the real reason Galiano clung to his skepticism was emotional. "If she had MS it would mean she wouldn't be cured," he said. That was a possibility Galiano could not entertain about his wife of nearly 40 years. Olga Galiano's problem surfaced about five years ago, shortly after the couple moved back to their homeland, Guatemala. They had spent their entire adult lives in the Washington area, where their children were born and raised, but Olga Galiano's mother was seriously ill and needed their help. Soon after they settled in Guatemala City, Olga Galiano got very sick. She collapsed on the floor and in the space of a week developed double vision and an uncontrollable tremor in her head and hands. She also lost her sense of balance, and her speech became badly slurred. The first doctor who examined her ruled out a stroke, then diagnosed Parkinson's disease, which he soon changed to MS, an autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system. A second doctor concurred with the MS diagnosis. A third physician told them he had no idea what was wrong and recommended a witch doctor. © 2008 The Washington Post Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals; Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals; Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 11392 - Posted: 06.24.2010

Nathan Seppa An experimental vaccine for people who have multiple sclerosis has proved safe, clearing a necessary first hurdle toward regulatory approval. The results of this initial trial also suggest that the vaccine can indeed quell the self-destructive immune reaction that many scientists believe causes the disease. Despite this early promise, the researchers caution that the findings are based on data gathered from a small group over a limited time. The researchers used a technique called DNA vaccination, which introduces a gene into the body to elicit an immune response. But rather than rile the immune system against a foreign foe, the new multiple sclerosis (MS) vaccine seeks to induce immune tolerance of myelin basic protein, a component of myelin. A fatty material that protects nerves, myelin is degraded in MS, robbing patients of muscle control. For the vaccine, researchers at Stanford University and Bayhill Therapeutics in Palo Alto, Calif., designed a DNA ring that encodes a slightly altered version of myelin basic protein. The changes replaced immune-stimulating parts of the protein with immune-suppressing ones. Scientists gave 30 MS patients four injections over 9 weeks and then tracked their progress for a year. The study was made public this week and will appear in the October Archives of Neurology. ©2007 Science Service

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals; Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals; Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 10613 - Posted: 06.24.2010

Roxanne Khamsi Testosterone can help protect against brain shrinkage in men with multiple sclerosis (MS), a small, preliminary trial suggests. Patients who applied a gel containing the hormone every day for a year showed less brain shrinkage than expected for people of their age with MS. The study participants also showed an increase in muscle mass over the course of the one-year trial. Researchers say the new findings are encouraging and suggest testosterone could one day help men with MS preserve their mind and muscle function. In multiple sclerosis, the immune system is thought to turn on the body, attacking the protective coating on nerves that enables them to swiftly send signals. This process can ultimately lead to neurological problems such as poor coordination and paralysis. In many cases, people in their 40s and 50s who have had MS for more than a decade will start showing signs of impaired memory, says Rhonda Voskuhl at the University of California, Los Angeles, in the US. For example, they might have difficulty remembering three questions asked in quick succession. © Copyright Reed Business Information Ltd

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals; Chapter 5: Hormones and the Brain
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals; Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex
Link ID: 10304 - Posted: 06.24.2010

Roxanne Khamsi A hormone produced during pregnancy could reverse some of the neurological damage associated with multiple sclerosis, a mouse study suggests. The finding could help explain why women with MS suffer fewer symptoms during pregnancy. And the results suggest that the hormone - prolactin - might one day be used to treat people with the disorder. Multiple sclerosis involves the destruction of the sheath of fatty tissue called myelin that normally protects nerve cells. The loss of this protective layer disrupts nerve signalling and leads to symptoms including loss of coordination. To simulate neurological damage in female mice, Samuel Weiss of the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada, and colleagues injected small amounts of a myelin-degrading toxin into the spine of the animals. Some of the mice were then allowed to mate and became pregnant, after which the team injected both groups with a marker compound which integrates with the DNA of new cells, allowing these to be clearly identified. When researchers examined the animals' spinal cords they found the pregnant mice had many more new cells around the site of nerve damage than the non-pregnant animals. Journal reference: Journal of Neuroscience (DOI: 10.1523/jneurosci.4441-06.2007) © Copyright Reed Business Information Ltd.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals; Chapter 5: Hormones and the Brain
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals; Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex
Link ID: 9999 - Posted: 06.24.2010

Roxanne Khamsi In a novel experiment, moderate doses of carbon monoxide protected against the symptoms of multiple sclerosis in mice. Researchers believe that the poisonous gas prevents the development of symptoms, such as paralysis, by stopping harmful molecules called free radicals from forming in the nervous symptom. Miguel Soares at the Gulbenkian Science Institute in Oeiras, Portugal, and colleagues injected the animals with a protein mixture known to cause experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, a mouse model of multiple sclerosis (MS). Ten days later some of the mice were placed in a chamber where they breathed carbon monoxide (CO) at a concentration of about 500 parts per million for 20 days. Soares notes that while the mice functioned normally at this level of CO exposure, a similar concentration of the gas can cause headaches and fainting in humans. At the end of the trial, the mice that had breathed CO showed much greater mobility than their control counterparts. While the experimental mice had limp tails, the control mice suffered complete hind limb paralysis. Soares suspects that CO works in this fashion because it promotes the binding of iron to heme molecules within the nervous system. Heme molecules that lack iron can increase the production of free radicals, which damage cells. © Copyright Reed Business Information Ltd.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals
Link ID: 9887 - Posted: 06.24.2010

Erika Check Could a spoonful of worm eggs help patients to fight the crippling symptoms of a nerve disease? Perhaps, say scientists who suggest that patients with multiple sclerosis can benefit from certain types of parasitic infection. Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease in which the body's own defence cells attack protective nerve tissue. This can cause pain and problems with vision, movement, memory and thinking. But scientists in Argentina have published a study claiming that these symptoms of the disease may be lessened in people whose immune system has been affected by a parasite. The scientists, who report their work in Annals of Neurology, studied 24 people with multiple sclerosis for more than four years, half of whom became infected with parasites after they were diagnosed with MS1. Among the patients with parasites, there were only three clinical relapses, compared with 56 in the non-infected group. And only half of the infected patients incurred brain lesions from MS, compared with all of the non-infected patients. Certain types of immune cells, known as T cells, produce chemicals that trigger the crippling attacks of MS. The scientists found that T cells from the parasite-infected patients were less likely to produce these chemicals. Perhaps the parasites programme the T cells to shut down destructive signals, says Jorge Correale of the Raśl Carrea Institute for Neurological Research in Buenos Aires, one of the two scientists who publish today's work. ©2007 Nature Publishing Group

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals; Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals; Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 9849 - Posted: 06.24.2010

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - People with higher levels of vitamin D have a markedly reduced risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a study published on Tuesday that may point to a promising way to protect against the disease. MS is an incurable and often disabling disease of the central nervous system that appears most often among young adults and affects 2 million people globally. Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston combed a massive repository of serum samples from more than 7 million U.S. military personnel to find 257 people who developed MS. Their samples were analyzed for vitamin D levels and compared with a group of randomly picked military personnel from the same broad population who did not develop MS. Among the white people studied, the chances of developing MS fell as vitamin D levels in the body rose, according to findings published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Among whites, the majority of those in the study, the risks of MS fell 62 percent for those in the top fifth of vitamin D concentration. © 1996-2006 Scientific American, Inc.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals
Link ID: 9776 - Posted: 06.24.2010

By Laura Blackburn One of the chief instigators of multiple sclerosis (MS) has a split personality. Immune cells known as microglia usually protect the nervous system, but when things go wrong, they strip neurons of myelin--their protective coating--leading to muscle spasms and memory difficulties. Now researchers have uncovered new clues into what turns these cellular Dr. Jekylls into Mr. Hydes. When good microglia go bad, it's usually because of a protein called interferon gamma (IFN-gamma). Produced by the body's T-cells, IFN-gamma stimulates microglia to produce a myelin-damaging protein called tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha). To see if microglia could be turned away from the dark side, neuroimmunologist Michal Schwartz of the Weizmann Institute of Science, in Rehovet, Israel, examined mouse and rat models of MS. When the researchers looked at the response of microglia in these animals to various levels of IFN-gamma and a related protein, interleukin-4 (IL-4), they found that only high levels of IFN-gamma trigger microglia's damaging rampages. When IFN-gamma is low, microglia protect neurons just fine. And when IL-4 is around, it overcomes the malicious effects of IFN-gamma and TNF-alpha, switching microglia from nasty to nurturing. Under these conditions, microglia encourage the cells that make myelin, called oligodendrocytes, to repair damaged neurons. © 2006 American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals; Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals; Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 8699 - Posted: 06.24.2010

Andy Coghlan THE immune cells that attack the brains and nerves of people with multiple sclerosis could be turned into a weapon against the disease. This month sees the beginning of a trial of a personalised vaccine for MS, designed to rein in and destroy the renegade white blood cells that attack myelin cells lining the brain and nerves of patients. To make the vaccine, PharmaFrontiers of Woodlands, Texas, takes blood from an MS patient and extracts a sample of these renegade cells. The cells are then multiplied and weakened with radiation before being re-injected into the patient, whose immune system will then recognise them as damaged and attack them, sometimes wiping them out completely, according to the results of earlier trials. The immune system will also attack healthy renegade cells, which have the same markers on their surface. In one trial of 15 people with MS the rate of new flare-ups was reduced by 92 per cent. If this success is repeated in the new trial it might mean that regular shots could slow or even arrest progression of the disease. "If that's the case, the earlier we can do it after diagnosis the better," says David McWilliams of PharmaFrontiers. In the current trial, 100 patients will receive the treatment and 50 a dummy treatment. The vaccine would only need to be injected four times a year, while other MS drugs need to be given on a weekly or daily basis. © Copyright Reed Business Information Ltd.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals; Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals; Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 8633 - Posted: 06.24.2010

Nathan Seppa An experimental drug for multiple sclerosis (MS) that was approved in 2004, then abruptly yanked off shelves last year because of safety concerns, may get a second chance. Two studies show that the drug can curb MS symptoms and slow progression of the autoimmune disease over 2 years, the longest tests of this drug to date. A third investigation finds no further cases of the often-fatal complication that sidetracked the drug last year, beyond the three patients who fell ill at that time. All three papers appear in the March 2 New England Journal of Medicine. The drug, natalizumab, was pulled 4 months after its approval by the Food and Drug Administration. Three patients in clinical trials had developed progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML), a rare nervous system disorder caused by a virus that attacks people with suppressed immunity. The withdrawal came after doctors had written roughly 7,000 prescriptions for natalizumab for MS, rheumatoid arthritis, and an intestinal ailment called Crohn's disease. The drug was marketed as Tysabri by Biogen Idec of Cambridge, Mass., and Elan Corp. of Dublin, which both funded the new studies testing the drug's effectiveness. Copyright ©2006 Science Service.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals; Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals; Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 8608 - Posted: 06.24.2010

Roxanne Khamsi Women who take the contraceptive pill cut their short-term risk of developing multiple sclerosis by nearly half, according to a survey. The study suggests that the pill could help delay onset of the debilitating neurodegenerative disease. Birth-control pills contain oestrogen, one of the most significant female reproductive hormones. The compound, whether produced naturally or taken as a pill, helps to regulate the menstrual cycle. The survey's discovery adds to a range of positive effects that oestrogen has on non-reproductive organs. The hormone seems, for example, to stop bone loss and forestall heart disease. It can provide relief from hot flushes and may even protect against cognitive decline, although studies linking cancer with hormone-replacement therapy in post-menopausal women have recently curbed medical experts' enthusiasm for oestrogen-containing drugs. Roughly two-thirds of multiple-sclerosis patients are female, and women generally have higher levels of oestrogen than men. So the disease has been blamed on the hormone in the past, explains Alvaro Alonso of Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts, who led the recent study. In fact, some doctors warn women with a family history of multiple sclerosis not to take the pill. ©2005 Nature Publishing Group

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals; Chapter 5: Hormones and the Brain
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals; Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex
Link ID: 7888 - Posted: 06.24.2010

Children who live with younger siblings during the first six years of childhood are much less likely to develop multiple sclerosis later in life, a new study suggests. The finding backs the so-called "hygiene hypothesis" which proposes that exposure to infectious bugs early in life - lurking in household dirt or carried by younger siblings - reduces the risk of allergic and autoimmune diseases by stimulating the immune system. Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease in which the body's immune system is thought to attack the fatty coat which insulates nerve cells. Damage to this sheath stops the nerves conducting electrical signals properly. The study showed that living with a toddler sibling for over five years could reduce the risk of developing MS by almost 90%. "This possibly occurs by altering childhood infection patterns and related immune responses," says Anne-Louise Ponsonby at the Australian National University in Canberra, who led the study. © Copyright Reed Business Information Ltd.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals
Link ID: 6755 - Posted: 06.24.2010

Heather Tomlinson A multiple sclerosis treatment made from cannabis has been rejected by UK regulators, outraging patient groups who say it has benefits for sufferers. The news that Sativex cannot go on sale sent the shares of GW Pharmaceuticals, the company developing the drug, down 25% to close at 106.5p. The news precedes a meeting between Home Office and Department of Health ministers next week. The meeting was prompted by MPs' concerns that MS sufferers are having to buy cannabis off the street to relieve their symptoms. The meeting had planned to look at ways of getting the treatment out more quickly. "The [regulator] has failed to listen to those with MS who reported positive and sustained benefit from Sativex, in a properly designed and statistically significant trial," said Christine Jones, the chief executive of the MS Trust. "I hope the [regulator] will reconsider their position and give some thought to the impact of this decision on the lives of those with painful, chronic disease." The MS Society said the news was "extremely disappointing". Sativex is a nasal spray made from extracts of cannabis plants, which the Home Office allows GW to farm for medical purposes. It contains THC - the compound in cannabis that causes the "high". © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2004

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 6531 - Posted: 06.24.2010

From muscle strength to immunity, scientists find new vitamin D benefits Janet Raloff The story of vitamin D would appear simple. Take in enough sun or drink enough fortified milk to get the recommended daily amount, and you'll have strong bones. Take a supplement, if you want insurance. But recent studies from around the world have revealed that the sunshine vitamin's role in health is far more complex. More than just protecting bone, vitamin D is proving to preserve muscle strength and to give people some protection against deadly diseases including multiple sclerosis (MS), diabetes, and even cancer. What's now clear is that vitamin D is a potent force in regulating cell growth, immunity, and energy metabolism, observes David Feldman of Stanford University School of Medicine. He's the editor of a new 1,300-page compilation of research findings from more than 100 labs working on this substance (2004, Vitamin D, Academic Press). Not only is the vitamin gaining increasing respect as a governor of health, he notes, but it's also serving as the model for drugs that might tame a range of recalcitrant diseases. Ironically, observes bone-metabolism specialist Robert P. Heaney of Creighton University Medical Center in Omaha, Neb., vitamin D is a misnomer. "A vitamin is an essential food constituent that the body can't make," he explains, but people have the capacity, right in their skin, to produce all the vitamin D they need from a cholesterol-like precursor. Copyright ©2004 Science Service.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals; Chapter 5: Hormones and the Brain
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals; Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex
Link ID: 6214 - Posted: 06.24.2010

An ancient virus that likely infected one of our primate ancestors 50 million years ago may contribute to the nervous system damage that causes multiple sclerosis (MS). A snippet of the virus's DNA, now embedded in the human genome, boosts production of damaging compounds in the brains of mice with a condition like MS, according to a report in the October issue of Nature Neuroscience. MS is a debilitating neurological disease caused by the destruction of oligodendrocytes, cells that build the myelin sheaths that surround the signal transmitting axons of neurons. Damaged sheaths lead to the primary symptoms, including muscle spasms, vision impairments, and memory problems. Some scientists have suggested that infectious agents such as viruses or bacteria spark an autoimmune response that causes the disease. The new study suggests a novel alternative: that the culprit could already be hiding in human DNA. Approximately 8% of the human genome is made up of DNA from viruses that slipped in their genetic material as our ancestors evolved. Called human endogenous retroviruses (HERVs), the vast majority of these ancient viruses are no longer functional. One exception is HERV-W. It carries instructions for making the protein syncytin, a critical element in the formation of the placenta. But HERV-W may have a dark side too. Copyright © 2004 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals
Link ID: 6173 - Posted: 06.24.2010