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Targets and Treatments That May Hold Promise for Treating MS

August 21, 2017

The success of multiple sclerosis (MS) treatment has escalated drastically in just a few decades. 1993 was when we saw the first disease-modifying therapy to stave off relapses and slow progression of the disease. Now we have more than a dozen such medications. Scientists believe that MS treatment will only get better in the next few decades. One of these new treatments may fall within a category called immunotherapy. Immunotherapy harnesses the power of the body’s immune system to fight disease. It focuses on stopping the immune system from mistakenly attacking myelin, brain cells, and optic nerves. Tysabri and Gilenya are examples of immunotherapies.

Christopher Jewell, an MS researcher and associate professor in the Fischell Department of Bioengineering at the University of Maryland, and others are working on specific ways to “retrain” immune cells, instead of blocking them. He and his team tested the idea by targeting T cells – a type of immune cell – in the lymph nodes, where the cells get their orders to attack myelin. After injected the loaded particles into the lymph nodes of paralyzed mice with MS, the mice were able to start walking.

Another experimental area for MS treatment aims to jump-start oligodendrocytes, or the cells that produce myelin. Oligodendrocytes are damaged in the immune system’s attack on myelin and nerves. Researchers at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center studied whether injecting synthetic miR-219 into the spinal columns and cerebrospinal fluid of mice with MS would reinvigorate damaged oligodendrocytes and flip on the genetic switch for myelin production. Results showed that the treatment partially restored myelination and limb function.

READ MORE: http://health.usnews.com/health-care/patient-advice/articles/2017-07-21/targets-and-treatments-that-may-hold-promise-for-treating-ms