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SCIENCE FILE | Science in Brief

Fetal Brain Cell Transplants Show Promise in Multiple Sclerosis Research

January 02, 1997|From Times staff reports

Transplants of fetal brain cells called glial cells can restore myelin sheaths in a canine form of multiple sclerosis, a finding that researchers hope can be translated to humans in as little as two years. Multiple sclerosis, which affects as many as 30,000 Americans, is caused by the immune system's attack on myelin, which encloses nerve cells and acts as insulation. The attack produces short-circuiting of nerve transmissions.

Veterinarian Ian Duncan and his colleagues at the University of Wisconsin-Madison report in the January edition of Nature Medicine that the transplanted glial cells not only provide insulation at the transplant site, but that they grow and spread to provide protection over a much larger area than expected, alleviating symptoms.

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