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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

MS may be a transmissible protein misfolding disorder, study suggests

– Multiple sclerosis appears to be a transmissible protein misfolding disorder like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, results of a new study suggest. MS may even be caused by prions, potentially putting it into the same category as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.
Researchers don’t think MS is contagious between humans. But their findings in mice do suggest that the disease is transmissible from “a seed of protein misfolding,” Shigeki Tsutsui, DVM, PhD, of the University of Calgary (Alta.), said in an interview in advance of his presentation at the meeting held by the Americas Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis.
Dr. Shigeki Tsutsui, research assistant professor in clinical neuroscience at the University of Calgary, Alberta
Dr. Shigeki Tsutsui
According to Dr. Tsutsui, the study is rooted in the MS origin theory that some factor causes damage in the central nervous system and triggers a secondary autoimmune response that sparks the disease.

“The next question is: ‘What is actually causing primary damage?’ ” he said. “Our hypothesis is that it’s protein misfolding. If protein misfolding targets the central neuron cells, then those damaged cells release a kind of a trigger to start an immune response.”
This isn’t an unusual concept. Protein misfolding is believed to cause several chronic neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Dr. Tsutsui said.
The researchers focused on the potential transmissibility of human prion protein “since we thought that the prion protein might be the candidate causing the MS,” he said.
Prion diseases are extremely rare and often deadly. They appear when normal cellular prion proteins are induced to misfold when they come in contact with infectious agents known as prions.


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