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New Multiple Sclerosis Research Inspires Hope

Innovations and research on Multiple Sclerosis treatments have come a long way in the past ten years. There are more medications and treatments available now than ever before -- and so much promise in store for the future.

New research published in Nature Biomedical Engineering from researchers at the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering revealed provides hope for patients:

The researchers "devised a way to reduce the migration of cells that can lead to the disease by fusing a cytokine, a small protein secreted by the immune system, to a blood protein. With preliminary testing on mice, this fusion prevented destructive immune cells from infiltrating the central nervous system, effectively decreasing the number of cells that are involved in the development of M.S.."

Jeffrey Hubbell, the Eugene Bell Professor in Tissue Engineering and deputy dean for development, led the research. “Most biological drugs for M.S. seek to block a bad actor…Rather than blocking a bad actor, we sought to provide a positive actor, one that could re-balance immunity more toward tolerance and thus ease the pathology of the disease," he said.

Obviously, new research takes time to thoroughly test and then move to human clinical trials. Researchers hope that it might even be self-administered and reduce symptoms even more than other treatments currently available.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is the largest funder of research of MS. There is always lots of research being conducted to increase treatment options and reduce symptoms. According to NINDS, these include:

  • Biomarkers to accurately diagnose MS and monitor disease progression, including blood and imaging tests (such as MRI)

  • Genetic and environmental risk factors for MS such as low Vitamin D or the Epstein-Barr virus

  • The role of the gut microbiome and diet in MS

  • Mechanisms that underlie gender differences in the incidence and presentation of MS

  • MS risk factors and disease course in African American and Hispanic populations and disparities in care

  • The role of the immune system in MS, including its function in the central nervous system (CNS)

  • The role and crosstalk of various cell types in the CNS with relation to MS

  • Basic functions of myelination, demyelination, and axonal degeneration, and strategies to overcome axonal and myelin loss

You can learn more about research being done here.

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