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Researchers Unearth Clues to MS Development by Mapping Cells within Brain Lesions

March 21, 2024

Stopping nervous system damage by the immune system in multiple sclerosis requires understanding why it occurs. Researchers from the Karolinska Institutet and Stockholm University (Sweden) are mapping out what happens to specific cells within MS lesions (damaged or inflamed areas in the brain and spinal cord) in different regions of the spinal cord. Novel technology has enabled these researchers to better examine individual cells and their precise location within these regions. They investigated 239 genes in mice with MS-like disease, and 260 genes in tissue obtained from people who had MS in their lifetimes.

By tracking the activity of these genes – across different cell types and different regions of the brain and spinal cord – the team learned important information about how different cell types are arranged and how they interact with each other. For example, they found cells that make nerve-insulating myelin (oligodendrocytes) surround immune cells within lesions. These findings add to research suggesting  that oligodendrocytes may help drive the damaging immune response in MS.

The researchers are looking to continue this work in larger numbers of samples, because MS can look very different among individuals with the disease.  A better understanding of what happens at the cellular level may provide new targets for therapies that can stop MS in its tracks.

Read more from the Karolinska Institutet website

Read the paper in the journal Cell (available without a subscription)

Tissue donation is crucial to research like this – read more

About Multiple Sclerosis

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.

About the National Multiple Sclerosis Society

The National MS Society, founded in 1946, is the global leader of a growing movement dedicated to creating a world free of MS. The Society funds cutting-edge research for a cure, drives change through advocacy and provides programs and services to help people affected by MS live their best lives. Connect to learn more and get involved:, Facebook, X, formerly known as Twitter, Instagram, YouTube or 1-800-344-4867.


© 2024 The National Multiple Sclerosis Society is a tax exempt 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Its Identification Number (EIN) is 13-5661935.