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A Big Stride Towards Blocking the Development of MS

October 29, 2015

A study published in the journal Nature Communications indicated that researchers have made an important step towards blocking the development of MS. The researchers out of the University of Adelaide in Australia have identified a key protein involved in a “super-inflammatory” immune response that drives the progression of MS.

The protein is a specific “chemokine receptor” (CCR2) which moves the body’s T-cells around the body when they are in the super-inflammatory mode needed to fight persistent infections or conversely, as in the case of MS, attacking the body's own tissues. CCR2 is a different receptor than was widely assumed to be involved.

"Everybody has been focusing on the CCR6 receptor as the one to target to control this inflammatory response," says project leader Professor Shaun McColl, Director of the Centre for Molecular Pathology at the University of Adelaide.

"We've now shown that the receptor to target is actually CCR2. Blocking CCR6 makes the disease worse. If we can find an antagonist to block the CCR2 receptor specifically on these T-cells, we should be able to control the progression of MS."

"Unlike in autoimmune diseases, where the body's immune response is destroying its own cells and the aim is to block T-cell migration, with persistent infection we want to turn on the super-inflammatory response and enhance the migration of the immune cells to sites where they are needed," says Professor McColl. "This research may help guide development of vaccines that can better force that immune response."