A multi-disciplinary research team from the National University of Singapore (NUS) has made a breakthrough discovery of a new type of immune cells that may help in the development of a future treatment for multiple sclerosis (MS).
The team found that a new type of immune T helper cells named TH-GM cells play a crucial role in the immune system and pathogenesis of neuronal inflammation. The findings shed light on a possible new avenue for therapeutic intervention, which can be used independently or in conjunction with other treatment options to improve outcomes in the treatment of MS.
Team showed that STAT5, a member of the STAT family of proteins, programs TH-GM and initiates the immune response to an auto-antigen in responding to a signal from an interleukin, IL-7, causing neuro-inflammation, pathogenesis and damage in the central nervous system. Blocking IL-7 or STAT5 would provide a significant therapeutic benefit for this disease. The study was first published online on 21 November in the journal Cell Research by Nature Publishing Group.
The STAT family of proteins and their signaling pathway (called JAK-STAT) were originally discovered by Prof Fu and his colleagues in 1992. Disturbance of this pathway was shown to be a major cause for many kinds of inflammatory diseases. The newly discovered IL-7-STAT5 by Prof Fu and his team in neuro-inflammation significantly expands this line of medical research, development and therapeutic intervention in a number of major diseases.
MS is not considered a hereditary disease; however, a number of genetic variations have been shown to increase the risk. The probability is higher in relatives of an affected person, with a greater risk among those more closely related. In identical twins both are affected about 30% of the time, while around 5% for non-identical twins and 2.5% of siblings are affected with a lower percentage of half-siblings. If both parents are affected the risk in their children is 10 times that of the general population. MS is also more common in some ethnic groups than others.
1 : Stigma Increases Risk of Depression for People with Multiple Sclerosis : Penn State.
2 : $7M MS Progression Cohort to Research Multiple Sclerosis in Canada : Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada.
3 : How Can We Predict Whose Multiple Sclerosis Will Worsen? : American Academy of Neurology.
5 : Multiple Sclerosis Onset Age Linked to Geographic Latitude : University of Tasmania.
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