Researchers a step closer to controlling inflammation in MS

October 4, 2012

(Medical Xpress)—A University of Adelaide researcher has published results that suggest a possible new mechanism to control multiple sclerosis (MS).

Dr Iain Comerford from the University's School of Molecular and Biomedical Science earned a three-year fellowship from Australia to work on this project. It is directed towards understanding how specific enzymes in cells of the immune system regulate immune cell activation and migration.

Along with his colleagues, Professor Shaun McColl and PhD students Wendel Litchfield and Ervin Kara, he focused on a molecule known as PI3Kgamma, which is involved in the activation and movement of .

"There's already been worldwide interest in PI3Kgamma in relation to other human inflammatory disorders, such as diabetes and , and our study links this molecule and MS," said Dr Comerford, who is a Multiple Sclerosis Research Australia Fellow at the University of Adelaide.

Dr Comerford and his colleagues have now shown that this molecule is crucial for the development of experimental autoimmune encephalitis (EAE) in an developed as a standard laboratory system for studying MS.

The team showed that a , which knocked out that particular molecule, resulted in a high resistance to the development of EAE and therefore protected against the nervous system damage typical of multiple sclerosis.

When the molecule is present, severe damage to the insulating myelin in the central nervous system was evident, resulting in inflammation in the spinal cord and myelin loss.

Following up on this result, the team then used an orally active drug that blocks the activity of the molecule PI3Kgamma at the first signs of disease onset. The drug even suppressed the development of EAE and reversed clinical signs of the disease.

"Our results so far have been very promising," Dr Comerford said.

"We've shown that by blocking PI3Kgamma, we can reduce the activation of self-reactive immune cells, reduce the release of inflammation-inducing from immune cells, and also result in a dramatic reduction in the movement of into the central nervous system.

"Our hope is that future therapies for MS might target this molecule, which could very specifically dampen the damaging inflammation in the .

"It will now be crucial to determine whether targeting these molecules could be a safe and effective way to treat MS in humans," Dr Comerford said.

Mr Jeremy Wright, CEO of MS Research Australia said: "It is very rewarding to see that MSRA has been able to support these exciting developments by a young up-and-coming researcher. We will await his further results with great interest," he said.

The research results were published recently in the online journal PLOS ONE.

Explore further: Blocking crucial molecule could help treat multiple sclerosis

More information: www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0045095

Related Stories

Blocking crucial molecule could help treat multiple sclerosis

April 24, 2011

Reporting in Nature Immunology, Jefferson neuroscientists have identified a driving force behind autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS), and suggest that blocking this cell-signaling molecule is the first step ...

Multiple sclerosis: Damaged myelin not the trigger

February 27, 2012

Damaged myelin in the brain and spinal cord does not cause the autoimmune disease multiple sclerosis (MS), neuroimmunologists from the University of Zurich have now demonstrated in collaboration with researchers from Berlin, ...

Receptor may hold key to multiple sclerosis treatment

June 11, 2012

(Medical Xpress) -- A receptor recently discovered to control the movement of immune cells across central nervous system barriers (including the blood-brain barrier) may hold the key to treating multiple sclerosis (MS), a ...

Recommended for you

Flu study, on hold, yields new vaccine technology

September 2, 2015

Vaccines to protect against an avian influenza pandemic as well as seasonal flu may be mass produced more quickly and efficiently using technology described today by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the ...

We've all got a blind spot, but it can be shrunk

August 31, 2015

You've probably never noticed, but the human eye includes an unavoidable blind spot. That's because the optic nerve that sends visual signals to the brain must pass through the retina, which creates a hole in that light-sensitive ...

Biologists identify mechanisms of embryonic wound repair

August 31, 2015

It's like something out of a science-fiction movie - time-lapse photography showing how wounds in embryos of fruit flies heal themselves. The images are not only real; they shed light on ways to improve wound recovery in ...

New 'Tissue Velcro' could help repair damaged hearts

August 28, 2015

Engineers at the University of Toronto just made assembling functional heart tissue as easy as fastening your shoes. The team has created a biocompatible scaffold that allows sheets of beating heart cells to snap together ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.