The destruction of myelin, a protective sheet covering neurons, causes the development of a disease known as multiple sclerosis. This illness is severe and incurable; although many drugs mitigate the symptoms, none repairs the damaged myelin.
Vishal Deshmukh, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA, USA, and colleagues demonstrated that benztropine (pictured), a drug already used to treat Parkinson’s disease, promotes the maturation of myelin-producing cells from their neuronal precursors, oligodendrocytes. This effect was due to the ability of benztropine to antagonize the muscarinic receptors for acetilcoline, a neurotransmitter that regulates oligodendrocytes proliferation and development.
As a consequence, benztropine therapy promoted myelin repair in two pre-clinical models of multiple sclerosis, raising new hopes for the cure for this disease.
- A regenerative approach to the treatment of multiple sclerosis,
Vishal A. Deshmukh, Virginie Tardif, Costas A. Lyssiotis, Chelsea C. Green, Bilal Kerman, Hyung Joon Kim, Krishnan Padmanabhan, Jonathan G. Swoboda, Insha Ahmad, Toru Kondo, Fred H. Gage, Argyrios N. Theofilopoulos, Brian R. Lawson, Peter G. Schultz, Luke L. Lairson,