In 2009, World MS Day was founded by the Multiple Sclerosis International Federation (MSIF). MSIF helps to raise awareness and to gain a deeper understanding of the disease, to initiate research progress and change. The World MS Day theme for 2020 until 2022 is “Connections,” therefore the main focus of the World MS Day and Week is to connect communities to help patients and their relatives and to access quality care.
There are currently 2.8 Million people diagnosed with MS worldwide. At least 300.000 are patients under the age of 18, so MS does not only concern elderly people. (cf. Atlas, 2020)
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a neurological demyelinating autoimmune condition of the central nervous system that affects the brain and spinal cord, which control the body functions. It causes damage to the coating that protects the nerves (myelin) leading to various symptoms such as neuroinflammation, microgliosis, astrocytosis and axonal degeneration due to the obstruction of the transmission of impulses (cf. Tahmasebi et al, 2020). For some MS patients, the disease is characterised by relapse and remission periods whereas other patients experience a progressive pattern (cf. Atlas, 2020).
The so-called glial cells are part of the central nervous system (CNS) and comprise among others the oligodendrocytes. Oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs) protect the axons, so the goal of the remyelination process is the recruitment and the proliferation of these OPCs and their differentiation into myelinating oligodendrocytes. Remyelination describes the process of myelin regeneration occuring after or with the demyelination process. During the demyelination process, OPCs are recruited so that they can differentiate into myelinating oligodendrocytes to protect the axons from degeneration. The reasons for remyelination failure and restoration is one of the biggest issues in MS research (cf Domingues et al., 2016).
Current research investigates the positive influence of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) on the remyelination process due to their differentiation and neuroprotection abilities (cf. Tahmasebi et al, 2020). The goal of the research was to investigate the impact of microglial ablation and MSCs transplantation on the remyelination processes in mice. The findings of the study show the significant improvement that cell therapy with microglial ablation can have on a chronic demyelination process in neurodegenerative diseases. Tahmasebi et al. were able to show that the intraventricular transplantation of MSCs induced the remyelination process and effected an increase in oligodendrocytes. Moreover, the study also found an increase in the thickness of the myelin sheath compared to the groups without treatment.
By using the uprising of digitalization and new technology in MS research, innovative applications and softwares came about. For example, impaired postural control is a valid predictor of falls, a health concern of MS patients. The suitable technology to measure posture is lab-based and expensive. Hsieh & Sosnoff, 2021 therefore propose an alternative solution by using smartphones for accelerometry of MS patients. Read here more about another mobile health application and MS.