Can Multiple Sclerosis Be Reversed?

Due to its complicated nature and unknown cause, Multiple sclerosis (MS) is currently disease with no established treatment, but a few drugs have shown the potential reduce frequency of relapses and delay disease progression to some extent. Moreover, the additional cost related with relapse of this disease adds to the burden.

Can Multiple Sclerosis Be Reversed?

The research, if focused on reversing myelin sheath (protective sheath of nerves) damage, may open possibilities in future multiple sclerosis treatment. In multiple sclerosis patients, myelin gets damaged due to attack from immune system itself. As the damage increases, it disturbs the flow of signals that travel along the nerve to or from the brain. This results in a range of symptoms including pain in walking or standing, loss of feel on touch, disturbed eyesight, and extreme weakness.1

There is no concrete evidence that diet modification can reverse multiple sclerosis but it plays a significant role in controlling the symptoms of this degenerative disease. Vitamin D helps in regulation of the chemical messengers, known as cytokines, which repair the immune system and inflammation in the body.2 A calorie-specific diet which copy the effects of fasting may reverse the symptoms of multiple sclerosis sometimes and may help to repair the damage caused by the disease itself. The diet regime commonly involves cutting down the normal calorie counts in half for three days in every week. Cutting down calories from diet may potentiate regeneration of myelin sheath, which is vital in the process of signal transmission through the nerves.3

Most of the current therapies for multiple sclerosis are aimed to protect the immune system from attacking the myelin sheaths. This can decrease the damage, but it cannot reverse it. So, the disease is suppressed for some time but emerges again known as relapse.4

Disease modifying treatments (DMTs) have shown to be effective as it slows down the damage of myelin sheath and decreases the relapse rate in multiple sclerosis patients.5 Due to technical advancement; a new gene therapy brings a new hope that multiple sclerosis could be reversed in near future. This targeted gene therapy help in induction of regulatory cells that can suppress the inflammatory process in multiple sclerosis. Although, the concept is its infancy, future research may provide successful results.6

Cell therapy has emerged as an option to fasten the repair and reformation of myelin sheath among multiple sclerosis patients. Stem cell therapy is safe and well tolerated among patients with progressive MS, with no severe side effect. A study showed significant improvement in muscle strength, bladder function and neurological functions.7

Most of the available treatment of multiple sclerosis only prevent myelin sheath damage and do not play any role in regeneration of this protective covering. It also commonly seen that the patient’s condition may detoriate even when they are on these medication. It is surprising to note that studies conducted in recent years showed that in recent years that the same immune system responsible for myelin covering of nerves can itself play a significant role in regenerating it.4

A calorie-confined diet which imitates the effects of fasting along with proper medication may reverse the symptoms of multiple sclerosis and help repair the damage caused by the disease.3

References:  

  1. MS: Treatments to reverse myelin damage step closer with brain repair study. Adapted from: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/316382.php [Accessed on 4/5/2019]
  2. Nutritional Therapy Successfully Used To Reverse MS. Adapted from: https://www.foodmatters.com/article/nutritional-therapy-successfully-used-to-reverse-ms. [Accessed on 4/5/2019]
  3. Multiple Sclerosis could be reversed with calorie-restricted diet, study suggests. Adapted from: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2016/05/28/multiple-sclerosis-could-be-reversed-with-calorie-restricted-die/ [Accessed on 4/5/2019]
  4. The key to treating multiple sclerosis could be inside sufferers’ own bodies. Adapted from: http://theconversation.com/the-key-to-treating-multiple-sclerosis-could-be-inside-sufferers-own-bodies-92317. [Accessed on 4/5/2019]
  5. DMTs can reverse MS symptoms for some people. Adapted from https://www.mssociety.org.uk/research/latest-research/latest-research-news-and-blogs/dmts-can-reverse-ms-symptoms-for-some-people. [Accessed on 4/5/2019]
  6. New Gene Therapy Could Reverse, Even Cure, MS. Adapted from: https://www.mdmag.com/medical-news/new-gene-therapy-could-reverse-even-cure-ms [Accessed on 4/5/2019]
  7. Stem Cell Therapy Could Reverse Multiple Sclerosis Disability. Adapted from: https://www.ajpb.com/news/stem-cell-therapy-could-reverse-multiple-sclerosis-disability-.[Accessed on 4/5/2019]

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