What's your pleasure - modern medicine or miracles? Yes, at times it seems to devolve into a debate of exclusionary realms. But, when brilliant researchers are touched by a bit of grace, we sometimes find that medicine and miracles go hand-in-hand.
Mayo Clinic announced today they have developed an antibody capable of repairing damaged myelin - in mice. Trials with human subjects will need to be conducted. Still, this is fantastic, potentially revolutionary, news.
The breakdown of the myelin sheath, an insulating nerve covering, is at the heart of multiple sclerosis and other central nervous system diseases. In a healthy body, repair of damaged myelin occurs spontaneously. But, in those with multiple sclerosis the body fails to repair the myelin, and the disease progresses unchecked.
The antibody Mayo developed was genetically engineered from a single cell. It functions by binding to the myelin and triggering a process of myelin repair and regeneration, called remyelination. The mice, engineered to mimic progressive multiple sclerosis in humans, were treated with a single dose of the antibody. The dose administered was quite small, the equivalent of 2mg in adults.
The use of an antibody to treat multiple sclerosis is especially exciting. The antibody occurs naturally in the immune system and, contrary to most medical interventions, has no known side effects. In fact, it's thought to be safe when administered at strengths up to 4,000 times the required dose. In a medically complex world of ever-greater concerns about side effects, that's simply stunning.
Does this settle the debate over medicine and miracles? Well, no - but, in light of such stellar news, it would seem all sides have sufficient reason to rejoice...