June 27, 2014

Impaired neurosteroid synthesis in multiple sclerosis

Researchers at the University of Alberta discovered that the genes responsible for producing neurosteroids, which allow brain cells to communicate and enable cell repair and re-growth, are suppressed in people with MS. Increasing the level of these neurosteroids in the central nervous system may prevent and potentially reverse the disease. [Farshid Noorbakhsh, Kristofor K. Ellestad, Ferdinand Maingat, Kenneth G. Warren1, May H. Han, Lawrence Steinman, Glen B. Baker and Christopher Power. Brain (2011) 134 (9): 2703-2721.doi: 10.1093/brain/awr200]

Funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Alberta Health Innovates, and the MS Society of Canada, Dr. Chris Power and colleagues from the University of Alberta studied the white matter of people with MS as well as mice with the animal model of MS, experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) and found that both had lower levels of neurosteroids.

The techniques of micro-RNA profiling reported in this study have allowed for the further understanding of the disease mechanism in MS. The researchers in this study have identified the possible importance of neuroprotective steroids in MS and the potential of such compounds to act as biomarkers or therapeutic options for MS patients.

Future clinical trials are being planned.  A start date has not been established.