Light treatment a possibility for Multiple Sclerosis
Similar to the sun making leaves sprout in springtime, light might be the answer to growing back the myelin sheath.
Myelin is the insulating material of the body's nerves and loss of myelin (demyelination) is a key factor in most neurodegenerative diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis, Guillain-Barré Syndrome and Leukodystrophy. There is a general consensus that demyelination is due to an autoimmune response. Gradual loss of the myelin sheath leads to as many varied symptoms as there are branches of the nervous system in the body and symptoms are related to the area of neurons that are affected. Typical symptoms include visual problems such as blurred vision, double vision or loss of vision. Hearing problems, neuropathy, weakness of the limbs as well as co-ordination problems and fatigue.
Newly published research carried out at Stanford University has shown that there is a thickening of the myelin sheath if the brain is exposed to light. Light was used to stimulate the premotor cortex in an animal model and this led to the creation of more oligodendrocytes (the cells that make myelin) and thickening of the myelin sheath in various parts of the brain. The thickened myelin was also linked to an improvement in motor function.
Stanford University's results reveal a new research direction and new treatment possibilities for neurodegenerative diseases.