Flipping the Switch on MS

Researchers discover family of molecules that trigger CNS attacks in multiple sclerosis

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) In multiple sclerosis (MS), white blood cells known as leukocytes enter the central nervous system (CNS) with help from a family of molecules (MMPs) and then damage the protective coating called myelin around nerves.

Now researchers from Hotchkiss Brain Institute at the University of Calgary's Faculty of Medicine have discovered a molecular switch (EMMPRIN) that affects MMPs and the entry of leukocytes into the CNS in MS activity.

Dr. V. Wee Yong, a professor of Clinical Neurosciences at the Hotchkiss Brain Institute at the University of Calgary's Faculty of Medicine and the study's principal researcher said that in the study investigators were able to inhibit the molecular switch  EEMPRIN and noticed a reduction in intensity in MS-type symptoms in mice.

The findings suggest that targeting the molecular switch EEMPRIN in MS patients could result in a reduction of injury to the brain and spinal cord caused by leukocytes.

The researchers also found EMMPRIN to be significantly elevated in the brain lesions associated with MS, pointing to the molecular family's possibly significant role in the disease.

Dr. Smriti Agrawal, a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Yong's lab and the study's lead author, said the results are exciting as they offer new insights in the MS disease process.

MS, a neurodegenerative disease, affects about 2.5 million people worldwide.

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Review Date: 
January 12, 2011
Last Updated:
January 12, 2011