Monkeys and Medication

Published 03/16 2012 02:56PM

Updated 03/16 2012 07:27PM


MORE THAN 400-THOUSAND AMERICANS ARE LIVING WITH MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS-- A CHRONIC, UNPREDICTABLE DISEASE THAT ATTACKS THE CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM.
 NEW DISCOVERIES COULD HELP SCIENTISTS COME UP WITH BETTER TREATMENTS FOR THE DISEASE, EVEN PREVENT ITS ONSET.
WHETHER PARACHUTING, FISHING,OR ENJOYING THE BEACH, SUSAN DOBROFF HAS ALWAYS PICTURED HERSELF AS AN OUTDOORS WOMAN.
"It's like being in touch with God."
NOT EVEN MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS COULD DAMPEN HER ACTIVE LIFESTYLE. TWO YEARS AFTER BEING DIAGNOSED, SHE STARTED LAW SCHOOL.
"I realized, you know, you've been thinking about going to law school for a long time so gotta do it sooner rather than later."
BUT 10 YEARS AFTER HER DIAGNOSIS, SUSAN BEGAN TO LOSE HER ABILITY TO WALK.
EVENTUALLY, HER LEGAL CAREER CAME TO A GRIDDING HALT, TOO. "Lawyers don't need to walk and run in order to practice law but we do have to think." (Monkey screech)
NOW JAPANESE MACAQUES COULD HOLD THE KEY TO HELPING PEOPLE LIKE SUSAN. SCIENTISTS AT THE OREGON NATIONAL PRIMATE CENTER HAVE DISCOVERED A NEW HERPES VIRUS IN MONKEYS THAT CAUSES AN M-S LIKE DISEASE IN MACAQUES.
THESE BRAIN LESIONS ARE A CLASSIC INDICATOR OF INFLAMMATION IN PEOPLE WITH M-S. THE DISCOVERY COULD HELP SCIENTISTS SOLVE HOW THE DISEASE DEVELOPS AND STOP ITS ONSET.
"That's the ultimate goal. It's a huge finding."
FROM MONKEYS TO MEDICATION, A NEW DRUG CALLED OCRELIZUMAB IS ALSO SHOWING PROMISE IN TREATING M-S.
IN PRELIMINARY STUDIES, THE ANTIBODY DRUG REDUCED THE AMOUNT OF BRAIN LESIONS IN PATIENTS. FINDINGS THAT COULD ONE DAY HELP PEOPLE LIKE SUSAN STAY ACTIVE.
 AN ACTIVE INGREDIENT FOUND IN SAFFRON CALLED CROCIN --COULD ALSO HELP M-S PATIENTS.
  RESEARCHERS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ALBERTA STUDIED THE INGREDIENT AND FOUND IT COULD HELP PROTECT BRAIN CELLS FROM BEING DAMAGED.

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