Multiple sclerosis (MS) is characterized by muscle weakness and increased paralysis. There are various therapies that can help delay the progression of the disease in the early stage, but it is difficult to reverse the damage that has occurred in neurons.
a new study in PNAS shows that ursolic acid, a compound found in the pericarps of apples, plums and other fruits and in some herbal medicines, can reduce further damage to neurons and help rebuild the protective sheath covering neurons, thus reversing this damage.
the researchers used laboratory level ursolic acid purities to conduct experiments. They used an established mouse model of multiple sclerosis, EAE, which mimics human disease and develops disease slowly during its life. On about day 12, the mice begin the acute phase of disease when the signs of MS, the emergence of partial paralysis and the most effective drugs currently available 。
the researchers began to treat mice at the end of the disease on the 60th day, when the brain and spinal cord had formed chronic tissue damage and needed to be repaired and regenerated.
the improvement began on the 20th day of treatment, and the paralyzed mice recovered their walking ability after treatment at the beginning of the experiment, although they were somewhat weak.
this is not a cure, but if a similar response is seen in people, it could represent a significant change in the quality of life, the researchers said.
and most importantly, it's a reversal that has never been seen at such a late stage of the disease.
ursolic acid treatment can alleviate chronic EAE, promote myelin regeneration and reduce axonal degeneration and neuronal dendrite destruction. In addition, the researchers also studied how ursolic acid acts on cells. They observed that it inhibited Th17 cells, which are immune cells and one of the main driving forces of pathological autoimmune response in MS.
at present, many therapies seem to inhibit Th17, but the compound can activate precursor cells and mature into myelin producing cells, i.e. oligodendrocytes.
this maturation is the most critical. Oligodendrocytes, which produce myelin sheath, are depleted in MS, while the stem cells that produce new oligodendrocytes are dormant and unable to mature.
this compound helps to activate these stem cells and may be responsible for the reversal of symptoms.
a model of EAE immunoregulation and nerve regeneration mediated by ursolic acid. Although the evidence from animal disease models is preliminary, it is encouraging to see a compound in the laboratory that can both stop and repair the damage of multiple diseases.
the researchers plan to test the safety of the compounds. There are still many tests to be completed before the first clinical trial, which is a great precursor to the treatment of diseases.
end References:  compound in fruit peels damages and Spurs neural repair in multiple sclerosis  a dual effect of ursolic acid to the treatment of multiple sclerosis through both immunomodulation and direct remembrance