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Tuesday

 

Multiple Sclerosis – a major step forward


























Slow down the progress of multiple sclerosis (MS) – this is the aim of Canadian researchers at the University of Montreal Hospital Centre (CRCHUM). And they have succeeded in identifying a molecule which, if blocked, would help slow down the evolution of the disease.

“Normally, the brain is protected from attack by the hemato-encephalic barrier”, the authors explain. “This blood-brain barrier prevents cells from the immune system – lymphocytes – from penetrating the central nervous system. In people suffering from multiple sclerosis, there is leakage.”

In fact, two types of lymphocytes, CD4 and CD8, find ways of crossing this protective barrier. They attack the brain by destroying the myelin sheath that protects the neurons, thus reducing the transmission of nerve impulses and encouraging the formation of plaque.

In 2008, the same team identified a molecule named MCAM (standing for Melanoma Cell Adhesion Molecule), needed for the migration of CD4 and CD8. “If we block the interaction of MCAM with the protein to which it normally binds, we reduce the disease’s activity”, explains Dr Alexandre Prat, lead author of this study.

In order to complete their additional studies, the researchers have secured the help of biotechnology firm Prothena. This firm has developed a monoclonal antibody (PRX003) capable of blocking the MCAM molecule.

“We have observed a reduction in the disease of around 50% in mice suffering from a form of multiple sclerosis known as experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE)”, Dr Prat continues. “What is particularly interesting is that we can slow down the disease from the very first symptoms, as well as having an impact on its progression, which is a first”. Studies in patients with MS are due to be launched by the end of June.

Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by DESTINATIONSANTE
Note: Materials may be edited for content and length


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