Multiple Sclerosis News Today brought you daily coverage of the latest scientific findings, treatment developments, and clinical trials related to multiple sclerosis (MS) throughout 2020, a year marked by the COVID-19 pandemic.
We look forward to reporting more news to patients, family members, and caregivers dealing with MS during 2021.
Here are the top 10 most-read articles of 2020, with a brief description of what made them relevant for the MS community.
Results from a small clinical trial (NCT03032601) showed that two months of treatment with N-acetylcysteine, or NAC — a natural and powerful antioxidant — significantly improved brain metabolism, cognitive function, and attention in people with MS. Sold as an oral dietary supplement and as an intravenous medication to prevent liver injury due to oxidative stress, NAC has direct and indirect antioxidant properties, including the increase of an antioxidant molecule found in neurons called glutathione. Oxidative stress, a known driver of the underlying processes of MS, is an imbalance between the natural production of potentially harmful reactive oxygen species and the ability of cells to detoxify them with antioxidant agents. Larger studies are needed to confirm NAC’s clinical benefits in this patient population.
A study in mice suggested that boosting a natural process that mobilizes mitochondria — organelles that provide energy to cells — to the sites where myelin, the protective sheath that surrounds nerve fibers, is being lost, may help prevent neurodegeneration. Myelin loss is a hallmark of MS, and mitochondria function, namely the complex IV (a key component for energy production), is deficient in progressive MS. In the study, treating complex IV-deficient mice with pioglitazone, a type 2 diabetes medicine that promotes mitochondria production, increased mitochondria transport inside neurons to the sites of myelin damage, providing them the needed energy. This protected the cells from further damage and neurodegeneration, suggesting that boosting this natural response to myelin damage may be a potential neuroprotective approach for MS.
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