Researchers Find Way To Tame Immune System in MS

ms researchMultiple sclerosis is a challenging disease to diagnose and treat. But researchers are working hard in order to better understand the said disease and find different ways to treat it with more discoveries along the way. One of the more recent discoveries is finding a possible way of taming an erratic immune response associated with the said disease.

Researchers from the University of Maryland have discovered of a way to reprogram immune cells to stop from attacking myelin in the mice model of MS. This resulted in the restoration of the rodent’s ability to walk.

For the study, Christopher Jewell, Ph.D., of the University of Maryland and lead investigator along with colleagues set out to develop a type of immunotherapy that will help prevent  myelin damage, such as what happens in MS. According to Jewell, “The problem with current immunotherapies is that they aren’t specific.  They act broadly, compromising the entire immune system and putting the patient’s health at risk, rather than focusing on only those immune system cells doing the damage.”

In order to do this, Jewell and his team speculated that they will be able to create an immune response by focusing on the lymph nodes. In autoimmune diseases such as MS, a type of immune cell called the T-cell has been programmed to attack even healthy cells and tissues in the body. The programming for this happens in the lymph nodes. By targeting the lymph nodes with an immune-modifying compound, Jewell and his team speculated that it will be possible to stop the T-cells from attacking heath cells like myelin.

In order to test out their theory, the team used a polymer called poly(lactide-co-glycolide) to act as a carrier of other compounds. Then they introduced a myelin antigen and an immune suppressing agent, with the purpose of teaching the T-cells of the body that myelin is not a threat. The researchers then injected the immunotherapeutic agent developed directly into the lymph nodes of mice model of MS.

The researchers discovered that the immunotherapeutic agent gradually reprogrammed the environment of the lymph node tissues in the MS mouse models that has lost their ability to walk. This resulted in the development of immune cells that halted the attack against myelin. In the process, the mice were able to regain their ability to walk. The protective effect of the injected agent lasted for around 80 days. In addition, when other foreign agents were introduced into mice, their immune systems responded well, indicating that the injected immunotherapeutic agent did not interfere with normal immune function.

Through their  findings, the researchers are hoping to develop a type of immunotherapy that can treat and prevent MS as well as other autoimmune diseases. The researchers are also testing whether their idea would also be effective on type 1 diabetes, wherein the immune system starts attacking the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Their findings on the MS mice model was recently presented at the 253rd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society in San Francisco, CA.

Source: Medical News Today


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