Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a debilitating degenerative condition characterized by a range of symptoms. This disease is caused by the immune system attacking the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord nerves) as though they were foreign pathogens. The immune system’s attack causes inflammation in the nerves, which often leads to numbness in parts of the body, as well as the loss of motor control. Patients do not usually experience all symptoms of MS. A person suffering from MS may experience decreased or lost vision, tremors, cognitive impairment, muscle weakness, and muscle spasms. These symptoms can be temporary or long lasting, and may worsen over time.
Researchers are working to find what specifically causes Multiple Sclerosis and develop a cure. A new treatment method has surfaced in research from the Center for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto, Canada, that may show great promise for future research.
A Previously Unknown Spinal Cord Alteration
CAMH researchers discovered a spinal cord alteration linked to MS involving the AMPA receptor in the spinal cord. The AMPA is a specific cell receptor for the major glutamate neurotransmitter in the brain, essential to normal brain function. Previous studies have suggested that the AMPA may be able to mediate cytotoxicity linked to the loss of neurons. If this is true, it is possible that the AMPA holds the key to curing MS.
The CAMH team studied the way that the AMPA transmitter receives the protein glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehygenase (GAPDH), important for glucose metabolism. They found that in postmortem spinal cord tissue of MS patients, GAPDH interacted with the AMPA receptor at higher levels than is typical. Animal MS models also showed heightened GAPDH interaction. Based on these findings, researchers hypothesized that blocking the interaction between GAPDH and the AMPA receptor could lead to advances in MS therapy to give patients relief from their symptoms.
New Target for MS Studies
After forming their hypothesis, the team set to work to develop a peptide (a small protein) to block the GAPDH-AMPA interaction. The peptide that they developed specifically targeted the GluR2 subunit of the AMPA receptor to block interaction with GAPDH. When applied to rodent models, subjects showed improvements in neurological functioning. Motor function improved in the rodent models, and the rate of neuron death was much lower than in models untreated by the peptide. The peptide also did not appear to directly suppress the immune system like many glutamate-suppressing drugs currently being used for conditions like MS. The success of the peptide has highlighted a new area of focus for MS studies in the future.
Taking Care of Your Symptoms Now
MS research seems to be getting closer to more successful cures, giving hope to patients living with MS. While these new possibilities are exciting, it is important to remember to manage your symptoms now. One way that relief from MS symptoms is found is by relieving pressure on nerves around the face and neck and improving blood flow in those areas. Repositioning the jaw joint using a dental appliance can alleviate this pressure.
At the TMJ Therapy and Sleep Center of Colorado, we know that numbness, muscle weakness, and loss of muscle control can be frustrating or frightening. Although it will not cure your MS symptoms, repositioning your jaw joint can alleviate some of your symptoms and giving you back some control over your life.
To learn more about how dental appliances can help with some of your MS symptoms, please call (303) 691-0267 for an appointment with the TMJ Therapy & Sleep Center of Colorado.