Multiple sclerosis is a complex and heterogeneous immune-mediated disease that results in the progressive accumulation of mental and physical symptoms. Currently approved disease-modifying drugs (DMDs) are immunomodulatory or immunosuppressive, but these drugs have little effect on disease progression. In addition to studies that have directly targeted inflammation and immune responses, a large number of studies, most of them experimental, have investigated neuroprotective therapies and remyelination strategies. However, to date, attempts to provide neuroprotection have failed not just in multiple sclerosis but in neurological disorders in general; this situation has emphasized the need to revise the old paradigm of a “magic bullet” with a single mechanism of action. Remyelination strategies involve either promoting endogenous remyelination or replacing lost myelinating cells through exogenous sources. However, several puzzle pieces regarding the physiology of remyelination remain unknown, including feasible treatment monitoring methods, the selection of patients, and the optimal time of treatment initiation. This chapter will describe the direct and indirect neuroprotective effects of DMDs, as suggested by basic research studies and confirmed by clinical studies in some cases. Current knowledge of potential neuroprotective therapies and remyelination strategies is also reviewed.
Part of the book: Trending Topics in Multiple Sclerosis