Potential MS Therapy May Damage Brain Cells

Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease with no cure so far. What sufferers can depend on to deal with their condition is using MS therapy in order to live more normal lives. But researchers has recently discovered that a relatively new type of MS therapy may also damage and kill brain cells.

Researchers at the University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry have discovered that using T cells as a form of MS therapy can kill neurons. This is quite significant in that there is a specific type of MS therapy that makes use of T-cells and is being considered as a potential MS treatment as well as for other types of autoimmune diseases.

“Using T-cells has been seen as a potential treatment for autoimmune diseases,” says Dr. Fabrizio Giuliani, from the Division of Neurology and co-author of the said study. “But these cells that are supposed to be regulatory, when activated, they can kill. In our hands, at least, they were able to kill neurons. So this is very important. In MS literature, they were starting to talk about using the infusion of these cells as treatment. This area needs to be studied more before these cells are used as a therapy for MS patients,” he further added.

Dr. Giuliani collaborated with his post-doctoral fellow, Yohannes Haile, on the said research. The results of the study were recently published in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology, which is a peer-reviewed journal.

Researchers previously believed that collecting regulatory T-cells ad then inject them into patients with MS would keep the disease under control. The primary role of T-cells is to act as a defense line for foreign viruses and bacteria as well as regulate and maintain immune system tolerance. But when tolerance is disrupted, T-cell may also trigger or cause auto immune diseases. Lab studies have shown the said therapy to be showing promise. But recent studies have also indicated that there can be different sub-populations of T-cells in humans, some of which do not have any regulatory function.

Dr. Giuliani and Haile worked with the different subpopulations of T-cells. They found out that some of the cells were toxic to neurons. The two researchers were the first ones to demonstrate that activating a specific type of T-cell can kill brain cells.

The researchers have not yet determined so far what causes the T-cells to behave in this way. The wish to continue their research further to find answers. “We want to take the research further. We want to continue this story in an attempt to try and solve the mystery,” Dr. Giuliani added.

Source: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/224577.php

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