In mice studies, researchers from Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia have discovered that apple peel contains a chemical compound that could repair neurons and halt the disease process of multiple sclerosis (MS).

Ursolic acid, which is found in fruit peels such as apples, pears, and prunes, is responsible for giving the crops its shiny skin. Scientists say it could be made into the first drug capable of reversing the damages caused by the disease.

In the clinical trials, the authors of the study introduced ursolic acid to paralyzed mice experiencing similar symptoms as individuals with advanced stages of MS. The findings revealed that some of the animals were able to walk again, suggesting that the worsening condition came to a halt. If the results were to be the same in humans, this would commensurate to patients walking with a stick instead of requiring a wheelchair.

The researchers claim that the chemical compound might not be a "cure," but could provide significant improvement in the quality of lives of MS patients. The full findings of their study were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in April 2020.

Read Also: Nanotechnology Treatment Shows Promise Against Multiple Sclerosis

What Are the Symptoms and Treatment of Multiple Sclerosis?

According to the United Kingdom National Health Service, symptoms of MS include muscle spasms, weakness, stiffness, fatigue, numbness, tingling, and mobility problems. Furthermore, other bodily systems are also affected by the disease, which may cause vision problems, cognition difficulties, speech and swallowing difficulties, bladder and bowel complications, as well as sexual problems.

The symptoms are primarily due to the body's immune system mistakenly attacking healthy tissue. It damages the neuron's myelin sheath, which serves as a coating for protection. Because of this, the nerves eventually become traumatized, and the signal transmission from neuron to neuron becomes disrupted.

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society says that treatment of MS involves modifying the disease flow, treating exacerbations, managing symptoms through medication, promoting function by undergoing physical rehabilitation, and providing emotional support.

Researchers say that existing drugs stall or delay MS in its early stages by calming the immune system; however, none focus on fixing the damage that has already been done.

Ursolic Acid and MS

In the experiment, the researchers found that ursolic acid prevented neurodegeneration and bolstered myelin repair in mice with experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). In humans, the disease would be equivalent to MS, the researchers explained.

According to Guang-Xian Zhang, Ph.D., a senior author of the study, a lot of previous experiments have examined mice in the acute phase, when the disease is just starting or at its peak. He explains how the team tested whether ursolic acid was effective in chronic disease, where the condition already did enough damage to tissues of the central nervous system.

Additionally, the professor of neuroscience at the Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University, said that the compound demonstrated a reversal that hasn't been seen before with other agents at such a late stage of the disease.

The researchers claim that the chemical compound found in apple peel helps activate stem cells into making new oligodendrocytes, the cells responsible for producing myelin sheath. Furthermore, they believe it is likely to be responsible for the reversal of symptoms seen in mice.

The researchers conclude that their findings demonstrate that ursolic acid found in apple peel and other fruit peelings has tremendous potential as an agent for MS, particularly at the chronic-progressive stage. They say it has the capability in both neural repair and immunomodulation.

Also Read: Scientists Re-wires Immune System to Hinder Attack on Healthy Cells in Autoimmune Diseases