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British Scientists May Have Discovered Possible Cause of Multiple Sclerosis

May 1, 2017

A new possible cause for multiple sclerosis (MS) discovered by British scientists may pave the way for new treatments for the disease. This new finding relates a new cellular mechanism, which may cause the autoimmune disorder. The disease causes the body’s own immune system to attack myelin (fatty sheaths) that protect nerves in the brain and spinal cord. This leads to brain damage, a reduction in blood supply and oxygen, and the formation of lesions in the body.

Scientists have long believed that mitochondria, the energy-creating powerhouse of the cell, plays a link in causing MS. Researchers at the Universities of Exeter and Alberta used human brain tissue samples, finding a protein called Rab32. This protein is found in large quantities in the brain of MS patients and is virtually absent in healthy brain cells. Where Rab32 is present, a part of the cell which stores calcium gets too close to the mitochondria, which results this powerhouse to misbehave, ultimately causing toxicity for brain cells. Researchers are still uncovering what causes an unwelcome influx of Rab32, but they believe the defect could originate at the base of the cell.

This new finding will enable scientists to search for effective treatments that target Rab32 and determine whether there are other proteins that could play a role in triggering MS.