Fruit peel compound may promote myelin repair

A compound found in the peels of some fruits, such as apples and prunes, may reduce neuron damage and promote myelin repair, a mouse model study has found.

Scientists used laboratory-grade, purified ursolic acid and tested mice which were at the chronic stage of the condition – most mouse model studies test on mice in the acute stage when it is just beginning or peaking.

The mice were tested for 60 days, and the study reported seeing improvement by day 20, with mice that had been paralysed at the beginning of the treatment regaining their ability to walk, although they remained weak.

Researchers studied the effect of ursolic acid on cells and observed that it seemed to stimulate stem cells to produce new oligodentrocytes, which make myelin sheath and are depleted in people with multiple sclerosis (MS).

Investigators say that while this doesn’t mean it’s a cure, they are hopeful that if the effect is replicated in humans it could improve quality of life.

There are still several tests that must be done before clinical trial stage. Next the compound must be tested for safety because, while it is natural and available as a dietary supplement, there are concerns it could be toxic at high levels.