Switzerland-based University of Zurich researchers suggest that damaged myelin in the brain and spinal cord may not facilitate multiple sclerosis (MS). The recent research effort was conducted in collaboration with researchers from Berlin, Leipzig, Mainz, and Munich, notes a news release.

According to researchers, the project sought to confirm or disprove the “neurodegenerative hypothesis” conventionally held by scientists. During the study, researchers reportedly induced myelin defects in a new mouse model without alerting the immune defense. Burkhard Becher, PhD, professor, University of Zurich, explains that the results initially exhibited myelin damage that strongly paralleled previous observations in MS patients. However, Becher adds, researchers were unable to observe an MS-like autoimmune disease.

To determine whether an active immune defense causes the disease based on a blend of infection and myelin damage, researchers say they conducted further experiments, “We were unable to detect an MS-like disease, no matter how intensely we stimulated the immune system,” Ari Waisman, PhD, professor, University Medical Center Mainz, explains.

In response to the findings, researchers report that they are now primarily investigating the cause behind the development of MS in the immune system, rather than the central nervous system.

Source: University of Zurich