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MSWA Bulletin Magazine Summer 2021

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RESEARCH RESEARCH ROUND UP SUE SHAPLAND RN, BN, MSCN GENERAL MANAGER STRATEGIC SUPPORTS AND RESIDENTIAL OPTIONS FROM MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS NEWS TODAY Read more at: MS risk may be higher for children of diabetic mothers, study suggests Children of diabetic mothers may be at more risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS). Previous studies suggested a three to 10 times increased risk of MS in children born to women with diabetes mellitus — a disease where blood sugar levels are too high. However, these findings still need to be confirmed. Researchers in Denmark explored the possible mechanism underlying the association between maternal diabetes — diagnosed before conception (pregestational) or during pregnancy (gestational) — and the risk of MS in their children. 16,979 children born to diabetic mothers were included and analysis adjusted for age and sex, as well as maternal and paternal age and maternal obesity. The MS risk among children with diabetic mothers was 63% higher than those with nondiabetic mothers. Children whose mothers had pregestational diabetes were at a 2.3 times higher risk of MS, whereas MS risk was not statistically significant among children of mothers with gestational diabetes or diabetic fathers. “Based on high-quality national register data in Denmark, our large cohort study corroborates the view that maternal [diabetes] is associated with an increased risk of MS in the offspring,” the researchers concluded. Myelin‐specific T cells in animals with Japanese macaque encephalomyelitis A study published in the journal Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology reports a new primate model uncovered by researchers can help scientists understand the immune and inflammatory processes underlying the development of multiple sclerosis (MS) in humans. Japanese macaques (snow monkeys) can develop encephalomyelitis (JME), which results in the progressive demyelination (destruction of myelin), like MS in humans. Examining the animals’ lesions, investigators discovered two types of immune T-cells that were primed to attack myelin sheath components. These T-cells also have been identified as drivers of inflammation in MS. These novel findings draw further parallels between JME and MS and demonstrate that JME can serve as an outstanding [primate] model to investigate mechanisms that lead to an IDD (inflammatory demyelinating disease). Future studies should focus on investigating the “triggers that precipitate JME development and progression, as understanding how disease initiates could lead to discovery of mechanisms driving MS.” Newly discovered subset of brain cells fight inflammation with instructions from the gut, Francisco Quintana, PhD, Associate Professor of Neurology, Center for Neurologic Diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Scientists reported a newly identified subset of astrocytes (brain cells) thought to simply provide nutrition and support to neurons, can prevent brain inflammation by promoting the destruction of pro-inflammatory immune T-cells. 8

HERE WE PROVIDE SOME SUMMARIES OF RESEARCH SOURCED FROM WEBSITES IN AUSTRALIA AND AROUND THE WORLD; WE HOPE IT’S OF INTEREST TO YOU. WE HAVE INCLUDED BOTH MS SPECIFIC AND OTHER NEUROLOGICAL RESEARCH UPDATES. READ MORE AT MSWA.ORG.AU/RESEARCHUPDATE They also found that the anti-inflammatory activity of this astrocyte subpopulation is dependent on interferon-gamma — a molecule known to control immune and inflammatory responses — produced by natural killer (NK) cells, another subset of immune cells. The production of interferon-gamma by NK cells was seen to be controlled by the gut microbiome, the set of bacteria and other microbes that live in the gastrointestinal tract. According to the investigators, these discoveries may help guide the development of therapies for inflammatory neurological disorders such as (MS), as well as to treat some types of brain tumours known to exploit natural antiinflammatory signalling cascades to avoid being targeted by the immune system. “Finding microbiome-controlled anti-inflammatory subsets of astrocytes is an important advance in understanding of the CNS [brain and spinal cord] inflammation and its regulation,” the senior author stated. “This is a very novel mechanism by which the gut controls inflammation in the brain,” he added. FROM THE MS SOCIETY UK Read more at: New research identifies which type of nerve cells are lost in MS Research conducted at the MS Society Edinburgh Centre for MS Research has shown that a type of nerve cell called inhibitory interneurons are lost in people with MS. This opens up new avenues for the development of treatments to protect nerves. Using brain tissue samples from the MS Society Tissue Bank, Professor Anna Williams and her team found a dramatic reduction in the number of inhibitory interneurons in tissue from people who had been living with MS compared to those without MS. Another type of neuron – stimulating neurons – remained the same, even in people who had MS for decades. So it is clear not all nerves are damaged in the same way by MS. This is the first project to show the selective loss of specific nerve cells in people with MS. Current MS treatments target the immune system and reduce the damage to myelin. But to truly stop MS and stop disability progression, researchers need to find treatments that can replace lost myelin and protect nerves from damage. This project helps us to understand more about which nerves are damaged in MS and why; giving a greater understanding of how we might protect nerves from damage. Professor Anna Williams, explained: “Our research has shown that a specific type of neuron, called an inhibitory interneuron, is damaged in people with MS. This is really important because, in the search for new treatments, it focuses our efforts on trying to stop the damage and death of these special cells. Our next step is to convert this knowledge into new treatments that protect nerves and prevent neurodegeneration – and ultimately disability – in people living with MS.” The research team generated a new mouse model of myelin damage, which showed the same selective loss of inhibitory neurons seen in humans. Dr Lida Zoupi, who worked on this study, said: “In our mouse model, we show that demyelination directly leads to neurodegeneration, answering a long-standing debate between MS researchers in the process. By confirming this, we have a vital new insight into the mechanisms behind neurodegeneration, which could potentially be used as a model for the development of neuroprotective treatments.” 9