Researchers reveal first finding about MS that could mean new treatments

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
New target found for treating MS

University of Alberta researchers have discovered something previously unknown about multiple sclerosis that could mean new hope for patients tackling the baffling disease.

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In this new study the researchers discovered an entirely new mechanism that happens at a cellular level that could be the cause of MS.

The finding unveils a new target that could lead to more effective treatments for the neurological disease.

Defect in brain cells might cause MS

Thomas Simmen, study co-author and cell biology professor said in a media release: "Scientists have been pointing to the mitochondria, the powerhouse of the cell, as a possible link to MS, but have not been able to decipher how they malfunction."

Lab and clinical experiments conducted by the U of A team revealed how cell defects happen in patients with MS.

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One protein (Rab32) was identified in human brain tissue of patients that could be the cause of a miscommunication that leads to toxicity and MS.

"A part of the cell that stores calcium (ER or endoplasmic reticulum) gets too close to the part of the cell that creates energy (mitochondria) when massive amounts of Rab32 are present in the brain of MS patients," explained Simmen.

Healthy brain tissue, in comparison, has almost no Rab32.

The scientists aren't certain what causes the defect, but suspect it could start inside the cell; in the ER. It's possible there may be other proteins that interfere with the way cells in the brain communicate to cause MS that has been though to be an autoimmune disease.

Simmen said there may be other proteins involved besides Rab32 and here are "dozens" of possibilities.

The finding, published in the Journal of Neuroinflammation,. means new hope for MS sufferers.

Finding the possible cause of multiple sclerosis opens new doors for research and treatment options.

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