Scientists Discover A Way Of Stopping MS

Researchers have recently discovered a way to stop multiple sclerosis in its tracks. This is made possible by the discovery of a certain messenger substance used by T cells in the body that might halt the development of the said disease if neutralized. The findings were reported and published in the journal Nature Immunology.

Researchers from the University of Zurich headed by immunologist Burkhard Becher has demonstrated from an animal model of multiple sclerosis that neutralizing a messenger substance known as cytokine GM-CSF can stop the further development of the disease. The team of researchers spent 6 years of testing other relevant cytokines, messenger substances used by T cells in order to coordinate the proper immune response in the body. They crossed out other cytokines they investigated until they chanced upon the cytokine GM-CSF or granulocyte macrophage colony stimulating factor. GM-CSF is being produced by a newly discovered subclass of helper T cells. And according to Becher, “The MS-like disease could not be induced in mice without GM-CSF. What’s more, the disease could even be cured in MS mice if the cytokine was neutralized.”

The researchers were further able to demonstrate that the GM-CSF that is delivered into the brain by T cells also trigger the recruitment of tissue-damaging scavenger cells. “Without scavenger cells like these, the inflammation can’t really get going in the first place and the neutralization of GM-CSF can even reverse the inflammatory process,” adds Becher.

A clinical trial is currently underway in treating rheumatoid arthritis patients with anti-bodies used to neutralize GM-CSF. A similar clinical trial for MS patients may be due to start sometime at the end of 2011. “We’re extremely hopeful,” says Professor Becher. “But whether this form of therapy will actually help MS patients remains to be seen. Quiet optimism is the way to go,” he further added.

Source: University of Zurich (2011, April 24). GM-CSF required for the immune attack in multiple sclerosis. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 26, 2011, from

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