In a new study, researchers found a new way to prevent and reverse multiple sclerosis.
The research was conducted by a team from the Boston Children’s Hospital.
Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease affecting both adults and children.
It’s driven by “helper” T cells, white blood cells that mount an inflammatory attack on the brain and spinal cord, degrading the protective myelin sheath that covers nerve fibers.
But there are many different kinds of T helper cells, and up until now, no one knew which ones were the bad actors.
In the new study, the team pinpointed the specific helper T cells that cause MS, as well as a protein on their surface that marks them.
They also found an antibody targeting this protein, CXCR6, both prevented and reversed multiple sclerosis in mice.
If human studies bear out the findings, targeting these rogue T cells could potentially treat multiple sclerosis.
The team believes the findings could also apply to other forms of autoimmune encephalomyelitis (inflammation of the brain and spinal cord), as well as inflammatory arthritis.
Researchers have filed a patent covering the work and have formed a company, Edelweiss Immune, Inc., in which they have equity ownership together with Boston Children’s Hospital. The new company will be carrying the research forward.
One author of the study is Eileen Remold-O’Donnell, PhD.
The study is published in PNAS.
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