Dr. Elliot Frohman, professor of neurology and ophthalmology, is lead author on an overview of MS. It is the first time in five years that Journal editors have had researchers provide an overview of the debilitating disease.
Presently, the primary focus of research is on plaques, which are now known to contain certain predictable features consistent with tissue injury, such as loss of nerve insulation, scarring, inflammation and loss of the ability of nerves to transmit electrical and chemical information to other nerves.
"Recognizing these different injury cascades has catalyzed novel investigations into strategies for treatment that are aimed at promoting preservation of tissue architecture (neuroprotection) and even potentially neurorestoration," said Dr. Frohman, who directs the Multiple Sclerosis Program and Clinical Center at UT Southwestern and holds the Irene Wadel and Robert I. Atha Distinguished Chair in Neurology and the Kenney Marie Dixon-Pickens Distinguished Professorship in Multiple Sclerosis Research.
MS is an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks its own tissues and afflicts about 400,000 Americans and 2.5 million people worldwide. People with the disease develop problems with coordination and eyesight and, in some cases, lose mental sharpness.
In MS, nerve cells lose their insulating fatty covering, called myelin. Myelin comes from nearby cells called oligodendrocytes, which send out projections that wrap around nerve cells. Myelin allows electrical signals to travel quickly and with high fidelity.