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Ruijin Hospital research offers hope in nerve diseases like MS

RESEARCH conducted by Shanghai Ruijin Hospital has discovered how nerve injury happens and a receptor responsible for the injury that is caused by repeated bouts of low glucose from certain diseases or improper dieting.

Such damage to the central nervous system can be irreversible, but the research offers a new route for further study regarding therapies used in central nervous system diseases.

When blood sugar is below the normal range, the central nervous system generates more arginine, a type of amino acid, to activate a receptor called NMDA on the nerve cells, damaging communication between nerves.

Scientists found that blocking the NMDA receptor can protect the central nervous system.

The research was publicized in the Annals of Neurology, the most influential journal in the field, the hospital announced yesterday.

According to Dr Yang Xin, the chief researcher, the discovery can be helpful in dealing with many central nervous system diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS), in which insulating covers of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord are damaged.

MS is most likely to attack young and middle-aged women. Patients can suffer numb limbs within a short period time, pain, a reduction in vision and eventually death.

"Our primary study has found blocking NMDA in MS patients with acute outbursts is effective way to help their nerve function," Yang said.


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