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Thursday, June 8, 2017

Meet the Cambridge (UK) scientist on verge of curing Multiple Sclerosis


                                                                  
  
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This amazing work could literally change the world

BY

Dr Su Metcalfe is sitting quietly reading through some documents in the lobby of the Judge Business School when I arrive for our interview. It would be easy to walk right past her and not know you were in the presence of a woman who could be on the verge of curing multiple sclerosis.

MS, an auto-immune condition which affects 2.3 million people around the world, attacks cells in the brain and the spinal cord, causing an array of physical and mental side effects including blindness and muscle weakness. At the moment there’s no cure, but Su and her company, LIFNano, hope to change that.

“Some people get progressive MS, so go straight to the severe form of the disease, but the majority have a relapsing or remitting version,” she says.

“It can start from the age of 30, and there’s no cure, so all you can do is suppress the immune response, but the drugs that do that have side effects, and you can’t repair the brain. The cost of those drugs is very high, and in the UK there are a lot of people who don’t get treated at all.”

But now a solution could be in sight thanks to Su, who has married one of the body’s cleverest functions with some cutting-edge technology. The natural side of the equation is provided by a stem cell particle called a LIF.

Su was working at the university’s department of surgery when she made her big breakthrough: “I was looking to see what controls the immune response and stops it auto-attacking us,” she explains.

“I discovered a small binary switch, controlled by a LIF, which regulates inside the immune cell itself. LIF is able to control the cell to ensure it doesn’t attack your own body but then releases the attack when needed.

“That LIF, in addition to regulating and protecting us against attack, also plays a major role in keeping the brain and spinal cord healthy. In fact it plays a major role in tissue repair generally, turning on stem cells that are naturally occurring in the body, making it a natural regenerative medicine, but also plays a big part in repairing the brain when it’s been damaged.






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