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Myelin-Making Cells May Act Up in the MS Immune Response, Says New Research

November 20, 2018

Researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm report that cells that make nerve-insulating myelin, which is targeted by damaging immune attacks in multiple sclerosis, may in some circumstances actually participate in those immune attacks. Studying mice with an MS-like disease, and brain tissue obtained from people with MS, the team found that in disease conditions the myelin-making cells, called oligodendrocytes, are instructed by some of the same genes that direct immune cells. Rather than just making myelin, these oligodendrocytes may help to activate or promote the immune response that results in damage in MS. For this study, the team used novel genetics technology that allowed them to analyze the genetic activity within a single cell. Understanding these new findings might lead to new ways to protect the nervous system and resume normal repair mechanisms in people with MS.

Read more from KI News

Read the scientific summary in Nature Medicine

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Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable disease of the central nervous system. Currently there is no cure. Symptoms vary from person to person and may include disabling fatigue, mobility challenges, cognitive changes, and vision issues. An estimated 1 million people live with MS in the United States. Early diagnosis and treatment are critical to minimize disability. Significant progress is being made to achieve a world free of MS.

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