Scientists have revealed that a patient’s own skin may be able to repair the nerve damage caused by the incurable disease, Multiple Sclerosis.
MS attacks the fatty lining around the nerves causing malfunctions of movements and more.
But scientists at the University of Rochester Medical Centre in the US have used skin cells to repair the damage in animal tests, says a report in the journal Stem Cell.
Just like electrical wires, nerves have insulation – but instead of plastic, the body uses a protein called myelin.
However, diseases that result in damage to the myelin, including MS, leave the nerves exposed and electrical signals struggle to travel round the body.
They took a sample of skin cells and converted it into stem cells, which are capable of becoming any other type of cell in the body. The next step was to transform the stem cells into immature versions of cells in the brain that produce myelin.
When these cells had been injected into mice born without any myelin it had had a significant effect, said researchers.
However, MS patients would still have the problem of their immune system continuing to attack their myelin.
Any treatment would need to be used alongside other therapies to tame the immune system – or would need to be repeatedly performed.