Discovery opens new opportunities to slow or reverse MS

A new study shows an overlooked source may be able to replace lost nerve insulation and provide a new way to treat multiple sclerosis. The discovery of mature myelin-producing cells’ capacity for repair opens new opportunities to slow or reverse the disease. That may call for new therapeutic approaches that rally the oligodendrocytes to reach out with new lifelines to damaged myelin sheaths.

Consensus has held that once an axon is robbed of its myelin, the only way to bring it back is by starting with fresh oligodendrocytes. Only oligodendrocytes arising from precursors called oligodendrocyte progenitor cells can apply a new coat of myelin to axons. Thus, MS treatments aimed at remyelination have focused on recruiting progenitor cells in demyelinated areas and spurring them to develop.

However, researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Veterinary Medicine have shown in a new study that starting from progenitor cells is not the only route to remyelination. In cats and rhesus macaques experiencing a severe loss of myelin, the study’s authors found fully developed oligodendrocytes already in place were reaching out and beginning to coat affected axons with myelin once again. The catch is that to be helpful and remyelinate damaged axons, the adult oligodendrocytes may still need to have connections to surviving myelin segments – called internodes – on other axons.

Cats fed irradiated food for several months developed severe myelin loss throughout the nervous system. When the cats returned to a regular diet, nerve function was restored because of extensive myelin repair. The cats’ demyelination problems are unusual as a lab model of the disease.

In the new study, the researchers looked at the cats’ nervous tissue and found a unique myelin mosaic – axons surrounded by thick layers of myelin (formed during development when the axons themselves grew) were interspersed with other axons surrounded by thin layers of myelin. The researchers found oligodendrocytes connected to both thick and thin myelin sheaths in the cat spinal cord.

They also found this association when they reached back to a decades-old monkey model of demyelination. The monkeys’ myelin lesions resembled those in the cats.

Results of animal model studies sometimes do not translate to humans. According the researchers, the process may not be playing out in human MS patients fast enough to help mitigate the progression of the disease. Or too many oligodendrocytes may lose so many of their internodal connections that they become inactive or die.

The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


Annual MS Holiday Gala – Dec 15

The Roanoke Valley MS Support Group invites anyone whose life has been affected by multiple sclerosis, including caregivers, family and dear friends to join us for our annual holiday gala.  The evening starts at 5pm at the Holiday Inn-Tanglewood (4468 Starkey Rd, Roanoke) with a sponsored dinner followed by a live dj with dancing and karaoke.  There will be games, door prizes, family crafts, photo booth and a fun and funny gift exchange game (bring 1 wrapped gift per person).  And gifts for our children!  A block of rooms have been reserved at a great rate for those wanting to make a weekend of it.  Call (540) 774-4400 and ask for MS Alliance Gala rate for Dec 14-15.  Dress is holiday festive, which means wear what makes you happy and comfortable, right?!  Dinner requires RSVP (link), but no registration required to attend the party starting at 7ish.  

NMSS New Breakthroughs

 MS Breakthroughs

Join us to learn about our progress this past year in accelerating breakthroughs for people affected by MS, what’s in store for the year ahead and enjoy a research update from our keynote speaker.

We are excited to welcome Ingrid Loma Miller, MD, Neurologist at Neurology Specialists and the MS Center of Tidewater as the keynote speaker for this year’s event. 

Dr. Loma-Miller has an interest in MS and pregnancy and Neuromyelitis Optica. She is fluent in Spanish, equipment evaluation to enhance mobility, and adaptation of exercise programs to work for a variety of life styles.


Registration: 8:00 – 8:30 AM 

Program: 8:30 AM – 11:30 AM 

Breakfast will be provided.

Take this opportunity to connect with others in the MS community as we recognize leaders and partners who are moving us closer to a world free of MS. Reserve your spot today!

Time: 8:00 AM – 11:30 AM 
12042 West Broad St.
Richmond, VA 22901 
United States

You can RSVP for this event online at MS Breakthroughs.

NMSS Webinar & Telelearning

The National MS Society and Can Do MS are collaborating for a presentation and open discussion with MS experts to help you learn strategies to live your best life with MS on December 11.  Specific topic will be on Wheeled Mobility

If interested, you can register at 1-800-344-4867 or  Held online and/or by phone, 8-9:15 pm, ET.  Recordings and materials are available afterwards if you’re unable to attend live.

Kenny Wingfield and the Salem Half Marathon

Kenny Wingfiled in the Salem Half Marathon

For the man who is like the weeble that never falls down, Kenny is back in the saddle again! After a hip replacement surgery in October, 2017 followed almost immediately by another surgery for a torn tendon and muscle in his elbow in December and then again in January, 2018, Kenny was able to start training and riding again in March.

This past weekend, October 13th, on a beautiful sunny Saturday morning in Salem, Virginia, Kenny successfully completed the Salem Half Marathon marking his triumphant return to hand-cycling.

Kenny finished 137 out of 371 entries at a pace of 9:34, crossing the finish line with a time of 2:05:15 to cheering fans who knew he could do it! Congratulations, Kenny, for one more time inspiring all of us with MS to keep on plugging, to never give up on a dream, and to always take our hurdles as “just another bump in the road’.