Drug From Hydrangea Plant Shows Promise For Treating MS

Hydrangea PlantA drug that has been derived from the Hydrangea plant is found to be showing some promise as a possible treatment for multiple sclerosis and other autoimmune diseases. Researchers from the Program in Cellular and Molecular Medicine and the Immune Disease Institute at the Children’s Hospital Boston in partnership with the Harvard School of Dental Medicine report of a small molecule known as halofuginone selectively stops the production of Th17 cells in the body.

Researchers have found out that Th17 cells seem to play a significant role in various autoimmune diseases where the body’s immune system is triggered to attack normal healthy tissues. Although further research still needs to be done in order to better understand the relationship, researchers somehow have discovered that the Th17 immune cells seems involved in such autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis.

In the said study, researchers have discovered that halofuginone seems to selectively stop the production of Th17 cells without affecting the other T cells. This may help prevent the immune system from over-producing harmful Th17 cell responses. The study also showed that the use of halofuginone also helped reduce the disease symptoms in the mice model bred with autoimmune diseases.

The discovery of the effect of halofuginone is quite important because there is currently no treatment available for autoimmune diseases such as MS by turning down the inflammatory processes of the immune system without also turning down the protective processes. What current treatments are there only rely on antibodies to neutralize the cytokines in the body, the chemical messengers used by T cells control immune and inflammatory processes and responses. 

The discovery of halofuginone has provided researchers of the means to turn off the inflammatory process of the immune system by reducing the production of the Th17 cells while leaving the other protective processes of the immune system alone. Another good thing is that the said drug can possibly be taken orally instead of the current treatments which involve injections. Halofuginone truly offers some promise as a possible MS treatment. But further studies and clinical trials are yet to be conducted to determine its safety and efficacy.

Source: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/152822.php

 
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