Fighting MS: Old Product a New Help?
Glucosamine Fights Multiple Sclerosis in Tests on Mice
Dec. 1, 2005 -- Glucosamine, an over-the-counter natural product often taken
to ease joint pain from osteoarthritis, may counter multiple sclerosis
That's according to a new study in The Journal of Immunology.
The researchers included Guang-Xian Zhang, MD, PhD. Zhang is an assistant
professor of neurology at Thomas Jefferson University's Jefferson Medical
Zhang's team studied mice, not people. Their report doesn't include any
recommendations about glucosamine use.
However, the researchers write that glucosamine might work well with other
MS drugs and may have potential against other autoimmune diseases.
In autoimmune diseases such as
body's immune system doesn't work properly.
The immune system protects the body from viruses and other unfamiliar
matter. But in autoimmune diseases, the immune system attacks the body's own
In MS, the immune system damages tissue called myelin, a sheath wrapped
around nerves. As a result, MS can cause problems with muscle control, vision,
balance, sensation (such as numbness), and thinking ability.
MS affects more than 300,000 people in the U.S., write Zhang and colleagues.
The disease's exact cause isn't known.
Mimicking MS in Mice
The researchers studied mice with an MS-like disease. Glucosamine suppressed
symptoms of that disease and tamed inflammation in the mice, the researchers
In a news release, Zhang's colleague, A.M. Rostami, MD, PhD, gave his
"It would be fantastic if glucosamine works in humans because we have a
product that has a long track record for safety, and most importantly, can be
given orally," Rostami says.
"As a therapy, it might be used in combination with other proven
treatments, such as beta-interferon and copaxone," Rostami continues.
Rostami, who worked on the study, is a professor and chairman of the
neurology department at Thomas Jefferson University's Jefferson Medical College
and Philadelphia's Jefferson Hospital for Neuroscience. He also directs the
neuroimmunology lab in Jefferson Medical College's neurology department.