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 and Dr. Stephen Crocker (Photo courtesy: J. Gridley)

In a report to be published in the journal Experimental Neurology on February 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, Department of Neuroscience.

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

This entry was posted in Faculty.