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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

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are leading to better understanding and moving us closer to a world free of MS. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with at least two to three times more women than men being diagnosed with the disease. MS affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide.