Promoting remyelination for the treatment of multiple sclerosis: opportunities and challenges
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- Zhang, Y., Guo, T.B. & Lu, H. Neurosci. Bull. (2013) 29: 144. doi:10.1007/s12264-013-1317-z
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Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic and devastating autoimmune demyelinating disease of the central nervous system. With the increased understanding of the pathophysiology of this disease in the past two decades, many disease-modifying therapies that primarily target adaptive immunity have been shown to prevent exacerbations and new lesions in patients with relapsing-remitting MS. However, these therapies only have limited efficacy on the progression of disability. Increasing evidence has pointed to innate immunity, axonal damage and neuronal loss as important contributors to disease progression. Remyelination of denuded axons is considered an effective way to protect neurons from damage and to restore neuronal function. The identification of several key molecules and pathways controlling the differentiation of oligodendrocyte progenitor cells and myelination has yielded clues for the development of drug candidates that directly target remyelination and neuroprotection. The long-term efficacy of this strategy remains to be evaluated in clinical trials. Here, we provide an overview of current and emerging therapeutic concepts, with a focus on the opportunities and challenges for the remyelination approach to the treatment of MS.