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Researchers Report that the Brain’s Immune Cells May Control Overly Active Nerve Cells

December 15, 2020

A team at the Gladstone Institute in California led by Katerina Akassoglou, PhD, has found a new role for microglia, which are immune cells in the brain that have multiple roles. Previous research showed that these cells are constantly moving and extending “branches” from their cell bodies. Using advanced microscopy and image analysis techniques, Dr. Akassoglou and colleagues showed that microglia are actually reaching out to overly excited neurons (nerve cells) and controlling their excess activity. The team is now expanding these studies to see if this behavior of microglia is relevant in diseases such as multiple sclerosis.

This work was funded by the National Institutes of Health, Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, and others. Dr. Akassoglou is a previous winner of the Society’s Barancik Prize for innovation in MS Research.

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Read a scientific summary of the paper
 

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis, and there is currently no cure for MS. 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. An estimated 1 million people live with MS in the United States. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, and it affects women three times more than men.

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