Skin-related stem cells may be key to helping restore the myelin sheath in patients with multiple sclerosis. Using mouse models, researchers discovered melanocyte stem cells can, under the right conditions, function as cells that create myelin.
Melanocyte stem cells from human hair follicles that carry CD34 have the ability to turn into glial cells. The CD34+ stem cells can regenerate myelin, both on neurons and in mouse models with a genetic defect that prevents the formation of healthy myelin sheaths. The findings could have positive implications for the treatment of demyelinating diseases, such as Multiple Sclerosis.