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Scientists report breakthrough in MS and cerebral palsy treatment

Multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy are connected disorders in that they both involve missing or damaged brain cells. With cerebral palsy, damage to the brain usually occurs during pregnancy or early in life, while multiple sclerosis usually begins to affect people in their young adulthood. Both are physically disabling and often prevent people from working.

But there is some good news for people with MS and cerebral palsy. Wisconsin residents with disability concerns may be interested in a recent study suggesting that skin cells can actually be transformed into brain cells, meaning that people with these types of disorders could see a more effective treatment.

The process of transforming skin cells into brain cells is called "cellular reprogramming," and according to a study featured in the scientific journal Nature Biotechnology, the technique has already been used successfully in mice. The scientists now want to see the results in humans.

The technique has been called a breakthrough, as scientists point out just how plentiful skin cells are.

One of the study's co-authors had this to say: "We are taking a readily accessible and abundant cell and completely switching its identity to become a highly valuable cell for therapy."

Usually, the cells -- called myelinating cells -- that help make connections between the brain and the rest of the body aren't replaced naturally. This new technique, however, should give hope to patients and their families.

For people who are unable to work because of a medical condition, making ends meet can be extremely difficult. Many people need extensive help from family members and the Social Security Administration. People who would like to learn more about Social Security Disability Insurance may want to speak with an attorney who handles disability claims.

Source:, "Study Points To Treatment For Cerebral Palsy," Shaun Heasley, April 16, 2013

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