British Scientists Discover MS Resistant Protein Like Molecule

Researchers from the University of Bristol in England have taken a step forward in trying to find a cure for multiple sclerosis. The breakthrough deals with the discovery of a protein-like molecule that shows resistance to the disease. Their findings were further detailed in a study that was released on August 24 of this year in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The team of scientists, headed by Professor David Wynick ad in collaboration with Professors David Wraith and Neil Scolding, found that mice designed to express a large amount of neuropeptide called galanin were completely resistant to the mice version of MS known as experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, or EAE. Those mice that expressed no galanin at all eventually developed a more severe form of the disease.

Subsequent studies have also shown that human brain tissue affected by MS also seems to show higher levels of galanin especially in areas with MS lesions and shadow plaques that develop in acute stages of the disease. The discovery suggests that galanin could have promising possibilities for the treatment of MS in the future.

Prof. Wynick has initiated the research on the function of galanin in the relief of neuropathic pain. He said that, "It has been known for some time that galanin plays a protective role in both the central and peripheral nerve systems; when a nerve is injured levels of galanin increase dramatically in an attempt to limit cell death."

After hearing that some researchers have effectively shown high levels of galanin occurring in Alzheimer’s disease, Prof. Wynick went on to investigate if the same thing also happens in MS. He then collaborated with Prof. Wraith and Scolding who were both doing research on MS. Prof. Wraith, who was working on finding a vaccine for MS, investigated the effects of EAE on various galanin transgenic mice developed at the Wynick lab.

"The results were really remarkable", said Prof. Wraith. "Rarely do you see such a dramatic effect as this. Mice with high levels of galanin just didn’t develop any signs of disease. We have a lot more to do to figure out how this works but the results are extremely promising."

Prof. Scolding provided samples of human brain tissue affected by MS. Just as the team predicted, the tissues showed high levels of galanin. "The results of this research are very significant and provide new insights into how the disease might be treated", added Prof. Scolding. Although the research is still considered at its early stages, the discovery shows a promising future in MS treatment and research. A large of work remains to be done and it would take at least 10 years for a new drug to be developed and launched in the market.



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