New Study Gives Hope to Multiple Sclerosis Patients

Researchers at the UConn School of Medicine use Patient’s Own Adult Stem Cells to Identify Defect Linked to Myelin Loss in MS

Multiple Sclerosis group
Left to Right: Cory Willis (Crocker Lab), Dr. Rosa Guzzo, Alexandra Nicaise (Crocker Lab), Dr. Matthew Tremblay & Dr. Stephen Crocker (photo courtesy: J. Gridley)

In a report to be published in the journal Experimental Neurology on Feb 1, 2017, researchers in the Department of Neuroscience have determined that cells from patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) have an inherent defect in their ability to promote myelin – the brain tissue damaged in this disease. 

iPS-derived neural progenitor cells from PPMS patients reveal defect in myelin injury response.

Dr. Stephen J. Crocker, the lead investigator and senior author of this study, in collaboration with UConn Neurology and The Mandell Center for Multiple Sclerosis, Mount Sinai Rehabilitation Hospital in Hartford, developed new induced stem cell (iPS) lines from patient’s own blood samples. Using these in the lab they were able to make brain stem cells which may be the next step to unlocking a treatment for this disease.  

Data from this study shows that the benefit of certain experimental drugs which have been suggested to promote brain repair in MS may not work in patients with the progressive form of this disease. However, ongoing studies in the Crocker Lab have found that by using these iPS they can mimic the environment of the diseased brain which is leading to identification of new drugs which could have a better chance at treating the brain damage in these patients.

Other authors of this study included Alexandra Nicaise, B.S. (first author), Cory Willis, B.S. Kasey Johnson, Ph.D. (graduate students), Kristen Russomano, B.S. (UConn medical student), Erin Banda, M.S. technician, Wanda Castro, M.D. former UConn neurologist, Albert Lo, M.D., PhD. Director of Research at the Mandell MS clinic, and Rosa Guzzo, Ph.D.Assistant Professor, Dept of Neuroscience.

For comment on this study, please contact Dr. Matthew Tremblay, UConn Health’s newest faculty member in the Neurology Multiple Sclerosis clinic,

Hidden Hearing Loss

Bernstein Lab
Researchers at the UConn School of Medicine have developed a new test that can identify hearing deficits in some people who have normal hearing test results. (vm/Getty Images)

Do you often have problems hearing yet your doctor says your hearing tests check out just fine? Thanks to research done at the UConn School of Medicine, there is now a proven technique to identify “hidden” hearing loss that likely goes undetected with traditional audiograms.

Two researchers at UConn School of Medicine have developed a new hearing test that can identify hearing loss or deficits in some individuals considered to have normal or near-normal hearing in traditional tests.

Many adults report difficulties hearing in everyday situations, despite having their physicians or audiologists tell them that the results of their hearing tests are normal or near-normal.  Learn more.


Eyeing Early Detection of Precursor to Blindness

Mohan Lab
UConn scientists are working with a biomarker to enable earlier detection of a condition that leads to age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in the U.S. Royce Mohan (seated) and Paola Bargagna-Mohan are part of a team of UConn researchers developing an imaging technique that will signal problems in blood vessels near the eye that could lead to loss of vision. (Janine Gelineau/UConn Health Photo)

Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in the U.S., and UConn scientists are working toward a way to enable earlier detection of a condition that leads to it.

Led by Royce Mohan, associate professor of neuroscience at UConn Health, a team of researchers is developing a fluorescent small molecule imaging reagent to help identify preclinical stages of ocular fibrosis, or the growth of blood vessels from the back of the eye into the retina.

The researchers, including Paola Bargagna-Mohan, assistant professor of neuroscience, and Dennis Wright, professor of medicinal chemistry in the UConn School of Pharmacy, believe this biomarker probe could have major treatment implications, as this fibrosis is associated with an aggressive form of age-related macular degeneration – known as wet AMD – that causes rapid vision loss.  Read more about this early detection here.