New Blood Cells Help Fight Inflammation In MS

shutterstock_132113291Researchers have discovered a new type of blood cells that can combat inflammation that leads to damage in the brain. This may help reduce the effects of diseases such as multiple sclerosis. The findings are published in the Nature Medicine journal.

Researchers from the BRIC and the University of Copenhagen have identified a new type of blood cells that belong to a group of white blood cells called lymphocytes. They are a type of regulator cells that can combat hyperactive T-cells in the blood. In diseases such as multiple sclerosis, hyperactivity in the immune system can lead to a state of chronic inflammation in the brain. Hyperactive T-cells of the immune system can cause gradual degeneration and damage to the brain as seen in MS. By introducing a type of white blood cells that express a molecule called FoxA1, the researchers were able to decrease the level of inflammation in the brain significantly in mice.

Yawei Liu, associate professor at the University of Copenhagen and leading the research team, says, “We knew that some unidentified blood cells were able to inhibit multiple sclerosis-like disease in mice and through gene analysis we found out, that these cells are a subset of our lymphocytes expressing the gene FoxA1. Importantly, when inserting FoxA1 into normal lymphocytes with gene therapy, we could change them to actively regulate inflammation and inhibit multiple sclerosis.”

Because of the discovery, researchers are aiming to activate blood cells with the FoxA1 molecule to treat diseases such as multiple sclerosis. Professor Shohreh Issazadeh-Navikas, who headed the research group from BRIC puts it succinctly, “From a therapeutic viewpoint, our findings are really interesting and we hope that they can help finding new treatment options for patients not benefiting from existing drugs, especially more chronic and progressive multiple sclerosis patients. In our model, we could activate lymphocytes by chemical stimulation and gene therapy, and we are curios whether this can be a new treatment strategy,”

The next stage of the said research will involve looking into this strategy as a possible treatment for chronic inflammatory diseases such as multiple sclerosis.

Source: University of Copenhagen. “New blood cells fight brain inflammation.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 February 2014.

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