Discovery of Genetic Brakes Opens New MS Treatment Possibilities

Findings made by researchers at the Roslin Institute at the University of Edinburgh saw the discovery of so-called genetic brakes that can slow down or even stop the progression of diseases such as multiple sclerosis and cancer. The discovery may someday help researchers find new ways to treat and cure ailments associated with the immune system.

The three-year study, which involved international researchers at the Roslin Institute, focused on studying the immune system and examined the genes involved with the white blood cells known as macrophages. The researchers found that, when healthy, these cells help the body get rid of viruses and bacteria.

But in circumstances where these cells grow uncontrollably, they can sometimes turn against the body and may start attacking healthy tissues. Such instances can lead to humans developing certain conditions such as arthritis, multiple sclerosis and emphysema.

Researchers previously believed that such processes of cell growth were being managed by a group of master or regulator genes. These genes were said to give instructions to the many other genes in the immune system and control how they develop and grow. But in the said study, researchers found out something different.

It seems that the cell growth process is actually managed by hundreds of regulator cells which interact with each other in order to control and regulate cell growth and development. According to the researchers, the variations of how these regulator cells interact with each other may be the reason why people can be affected by the same disease in different ways.

The researchers also added that finding the weak spots in this network of gene interaction may someday make it possible to stop or slow the growth of abnormal tissues and enable the growth of healthy ones.

The Director of the Roslin Institute at the University of Edinburgh, Professor David Hume said that the findings may someday open up an entirely new field of scientific research and would change the way vaccines are used and how drugs are tested.

"This research provides an incredible resource for the study of immunity and disease in humans and animals. This study has effectively shown us where the brakes are which could slow down or stop diseases like cancer and multiple sclerosis. We believe that this could lead to treatments and cures for many diseases of the immune system", added Dr. Hume.


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