New Hope for MS
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New Hope for MS

During the 2012 U.S. presidential campaign, we learned that Ann Romney, wife of the Republican candidate, had a flare up of her multiple sclerosis or MS. It forced her to cut back her campaign efforts.

It also spotlighted the disease which is the most common nervous disorder in the U.S. and is caused by an autoimmune response. That�s when the body�s immune system attacks itself, in particular the myelin sheath covering parts of a nerve cell. We don�t know what causes MS, but it�s progressive and can impede functions such as walking, vision, and bowel movements.

Now researchers believe a new MS drug tones down the autoimmune response. The drug, daclizumab, decreases a unique type of immune cell that normally promotes lymph node development in the fetus, but may now be connected to MS. The cells, lymphoid tissue inducer cells or LTi cells, decreased when patients took daclizumab.

They also had less inflammation in the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal column. The drug lowers inflammation by blocking a molecule called interleukin-two, and activates natural killer cells that also help suppress the immune response.

From the study�s results, researchers believe that by blocking interleukin-two, daclizumab may be acting on a type of stem cell. This encourages the stem cells to produce more natural killer cells than LTi cells, reducing inflammation and the damage that happens in MS.

More studies will have to confirm the role of LTi cells in MS. Developing drugs to target them will do even more to slow the progression of this disease.

For more information…

NIH researchers implicate unique cell type in multiple sclerosis
"Researchers at the National Institutes of Health have found evidence that a unique type of immune cell contributes to multiple sclerosis (MS). Their discovery helps define the effects of one of the newest drugs under investigation for treating MS � daclizumab � and could lead to a new class of drugs for treating MS and other autoimmune disorders."

Multiple sclerosis
Lots of information on MS from PubMed Health.

National Multiple Sclerosis Society
Excellent resource for MS info and support.

Atlas of MS Database
"For the first time, information and data on the epidemiology of MS and the availability and accessibility of resources to diagnose, inform, treat, support, manage and rehabilitate people with MS worldwide are available in one database for analysis and comparison at country, regional, and global levels."