New MS target identified by Canadian researchers

January 11, 2011

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease caused by damage to myelin – the protective covering wrapped around the nerves of the central nervous system (CNS).

Previous studies have shown that certain white blood (immune) cells, called leukocytes, infiltrate the CNS and play a significant role in causing the damage that contributes to MS symptoms. It has also been shown that these leukocytes enter the CNS with help from a family of molecules called MMPs.

Using a mouse model, researchers have discovered that a molecular switch called EMMPRIN plays an important role in MS. The researchers explored how in MS, EMMPRIN affects MMPs and the entry of leukocytes into the CNS to result in disease activity.

"In our studies we inhibited EMMPRIN and noticed a reduced intensity of MS-like symptoms in mice," says 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 investigator. "Our data suggests that if we target EMMPRIN in patients with MS, we may reduce the injury to the brain and spinal cord caused by immune cells."

In addition to working with animal models, the authors also found that EMMPRIN is significantly elevated in the brain lesions of MS patients, indicating its potential significance in the disease.

"This study has identified a new factor in MS, the blockade of which resolves disease activity in an animal model of MS. The results are exciting as they offer new insights into the MS disease process", says Dr. Smriti Agrawal, a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Yong's lab and the study's lead author.

"The authors have extended our knowledge of the molecules that regulate the trafficking of immune cells into the nervous system as occurs in . The current study identifies a new factor that can serve as a potential target of MS therapeutics," says Dr. Jack Antel, Professor of Neurology at McGill University.

The research findings are published in the Jan 12th issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Offbeat brain rhythms during sleep make older adults forget

December 15, 2017
Like swinging a tennis racket during a ball toss to serve an ace, slow and speedy brainwaves during deep sleep must sync up at exactly the right moment to hit the save button on new memories, according to new UC Berkeley ...

Our memory shifts into high gear when we think about raising our children, new study shows

December 15, 2017
Human memory has evolved so people better recall events encountered while they are thinking about raising their offspring, according to a new study conducted by researchers at Binghamton University, State University of New ...

Study finds graspable objects grab attention more than images of objects do

December 15, 2017
Does having the potential to act upon an object have a unique influence on behavior and brain responses to the object? That is the question Jacqueline Snow, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Nevada, Reno, ...

Little understood cell helps mice see color

December 14, 2017
Researchers at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus have discovered that color vision in mice is far more complex than originally thought, opening the door to experiments that could potentially lead to new treatments ...

Scientists chart how brain signals connect to neurons

December 14, 2017
Scientists at Johns Hopkins have used supercomputers to create an atomic scale map that tracks how the signaling chemical glutamate binds to a neuron in the brain. The findings, say the scientists, shed light on the dynamic ...

Journaling inspires altruism through an attitude of gratitude

December 14, 2017
Gratitude does more than help maintain good health. New research at the University of Oregon finds that regularly noting feelings of gratitude in a journal leads to increased altruism.

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.