Yes, Virginia. Remyelination may be possible.
There is some interesting information that came out recently and I have been doing a lot of reading… There is evidence that a diabetes drug, Metformin – trade name Glucophage – that may actually help with remyelination. Remyelination is something that will help everyone with MS.
As we age and grow, our body is constantly replacing cells for us. Jonas Frisén published a paper in 2005 which showed, based on carbon dating, that the average age of a cell in the human body is between 7 and 10 years. As we age some of our cells, even when they are replaced with new ones, just don’t operate as efficiently. This is true with oligodendrocytes which derive from specialized stem cells, which are called oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (OPCs). These are the cells that are responsible for creating myelin.
“Metformin Restores CNS Remyelination Capacity by Rejuvenating Aged Stem Cells” was published in the journal Cell Stem Cell.
I will not go into everything in the article, but I read it and I find it fascinating as well as hopeful. But, what I will get into is the discussion of remyelination. Basically, the article states that as a normal part of the aging process, many of our cells lose their effectiveness. Among these cells are the OPCs. The OPCs are specifically tasked with remyelination. As these cells get weaker we see less production from them.
Metformin showed in this study that it can have an effect on the OPCs. It makes the OPCs more effective in the remyelination process. By making these cells work better you get remyelination in the brain. That is a very good thing in all patients with demyelinating diseases, especially Multiple Sclerosis with it being the most common demyelinating disease by far.
The study was done with rats. They were divided into two groups based on age. One group was age two to three months and the other was twenty to twenty-four months. The study showed that the younger group had an easier time with remyelination. But stepping away from the rats, there is also evidence in humans.
In looking at humans who had both diabetes and MS they saw a definitive effect on the progression of the disease. At this time, this is still considered anecdotal evidence since there has not been a trial as of yet. However, I expect to see a study on this in the very near future. This would be extremely helpful in the search for answers to this damned disease. Personally, I would like to see them look into if Metformin can have an effect in other brain-related diseases.
This is a very interesting field of study. And if they decide to progress to a phase two trial then it should be much easier to get to phase three. Metformin has been around for years and has shown to be effective and safe in treating diabetes. Hopefully, they can move to human trials very soon to show how much efficacy there is for MS patients using Metformiin. I would love to see just how effective it is. Can it help 90% of MS patients or just 10%? This is what the study needs to focus on. Part of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval process has always been showing how effective a medication is. So that is what the study needs to focus on at this point.
I know that it will not work for every patient, no drug is effective in 100% of patients. However, if we can show that this is even 50% effective in MS patients then it is a great jumping-off point. The next step, the way I see it at least, is determining which component of Metformin causes this. Once we have that then we can use that to (hopefully!) find an MS drug that promotes remyelination.
That is all for now!
Everyone have a safe and wonderful day.