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Cancer drugs “could help fight MS”


Experimental cancer drugs currently under study could deliver promising treatments for multiple sclerosis (MS), it has been revealed.

The drugs target biochemical pathways involved in the development of tumours and tissue-building stem cells. A key area of MS research focuses on similar processes in the brain. Combining work on cancer growth and stem cells could lead to new ways to stop or reverse nerve damage due to MS, experts believe.

A leading stem cell scientist from Cambridge University said he was “pretty optimistic that in the not too distant future we’ll have drugs that will promote regeneration by the brain’s own stem cells.”

Professor Robin Franklin was speaking at the launch of an initiative to speed up stem cell research aimed at tackling MS. Two charities, the MS Society and the UK Stem Cell Foundation (UKSCF) joined forces to provide a Ā£1 million fund to help stem cell scientists in their research.

“There’s one approach to tumour therapy which argues that if you induce a cancer cell to do what a stem cell does, then the cancer cell will become a cell that doesn’t divide or commits suicide. This strategy of differentiating therapy aims at finding pathways that will make a cell differentiate, and that’s precisely what we’re trying to achieve in regenerative medicine.

“The pathways we’ve identified recently also happen to be the pathways that are targeted for this differentiating tumour control,” said Prof Franklin, who was speaking at the Science Media Centre in London. ”

Copyright Press Association 2010

MS Research

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