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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Scientists one step closer to treating multiple sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis attacks nerves

Multiple sclerosis attacks nerves

The recent discovery of a new type of blood cell may lead to strides in the treatment of multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disease that currently affects approximately 2.3 million people worldwide.

The Biotech Research and Innovation Centre at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark announced the discovery of a new type of regulatory white blood cell in a study published Feb. 16 in the journal Nature Medicine. The cell has proven successful in combating the inflammatory T-cells in mice that induce the type of brain degeneration seen in diseases like multiple sclerosis.

In neurodegenerative diseases like MS, patients lose myelin, the insulation protecting neurons in the brain and spinal cord, because of inflammation caused by runaway T-cells.

The substance produced by the newly recognized cells, FoxA1, may counteract the nerve-damaging inflammation. The new cell is more abundant in patients treated with interferon, naturally occurring proteins that can help boost immune function, according to Dr. Anthony Reder, professor of neurology at the University of Chicago.


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