MS affects any area of the brain, optic nerve, and spinal cord, damaging the myelin sheath, which protects the nerve cells, slowing down or halting exchange of nerve signals. The symptoms vary from mild limb numbness to paralysis and blindness.
“This finding (based on mice models) could potentially be used to halt autoâˆ’immune diseases, such as Type 1 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis, and immuneâˆ’mediated diseases, such as food allergy and asthma,” said Nicholas King, professor at the University of Sydney Medical School, the journal Nature Biotechnology reported.
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“We still have many experiments to do to confirm this but our research is a genuine coup which promises to make an impact on a range of illnesses,” said King, who coâˆ’authored the study with Stephen Miller, professor at Northwestern University, US, according to a Sydney statement.
Daniel Getts from Northwestern who led the study was formerly King’s doctoral student at the University of Sydney.
“Till date immunoâˆ’suppressant therapy to control MS has had varying success but has always been a doubleâˆ’edged sword,” said King.
“When you suppress the immune system you remove the ability of the body to fight off infectious organisms and destroy emerging cancers,” added King.
The researchers injected small myelin proteins attached to tiny particles, just 500 nanometres across, into the bloodstream of mice. The particles travel to the spleen where they are taken up by cells called macrophages.
Once taken up by the macrophages, the ultimate effect of these tiny particles is to suppress the immune response to the myelin proteins directly.