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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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New MS Treatment for Mice
20 January 1998 7:00 pm
Uric acid appears to be a wonder drug in mice: It wards off a disease that resembles multiple sclerosis (MS), an autoimmune disorder in people, and allows partially paralyzed mice to walk again. New findings, reported in today's issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggest that uric acid might soon see duty in people, too. Researchers have confirmed that MS patients are deficient in uric acid, a compound derived from a range of dietary sources, from coffee to chopped liver.
Studies have implicated high levels of a corrosive chemical, peroxynitrite, as a prime suspect in the scarring of the brain and spinal cord that causes MS. Scientists from Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia decided to see whether sopping up this toxic chemical might help prevent the mouse version of MS, called experimental allergic encephalomyelitis (EAE). They found that a steady supply of uric acid scavenged the peroxynitrite in the blood stream and prevented the disease.
Now, immunologist D. Craig Hooper and his colleagues at Thomas Jefferson have gone a step further, testing uric acid in mice with EAE, a fatal condition. They gave the mice EAE and allowed the disease to develop for 12 days. They then injected half the mice with uric acid two times a day for 7 days. Those mice outlasted their treatment regimen, while untreated controls at the same disease stage died within 4 days. In addition, mice with paralyzed tails and rear legs regained some function. However, Hooper cautions, "mice that have irreversible damage aren't going to get up and start walking around."
The researchers also found that uric acid levels were about 15% lower in people with MS than in healthy subjects. Anne Cross, a neurologist at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, says of peroxynitrite, "we don't really know its exact role. ... It might have both positive and negative effects." The Thomas Jefferson group next plans to test uric acid in a clinical trial. Hilary Koprowski, a professor of immunology and microbiology with the Thomas Jefferson group, says, "We hope that uric acid will arrest disease progression."