New discoveries for the treatment of multiple sclerosis

Medical research advances to solve many current diseases. One of them is multiple sclerosis. Until now, the causes of this disease were unknown, which meant that the options for multiple sclerosis treatment were even more limited. A recent research study, however, has discovered certain molecules that could act as immunological markers in the most severe forms of the disease. This discovery could help individualise treatments for patients at higher risk.

Multiple sclerosis treatment depends on the degree of the disease

The nerves are covered by a waxy layer called myelin. This layer is essential for the transmission of messages through the nervous system. In people with multiple sclerosis, this myelin coating degrades over time. This causes the transmission of signals by the nervous system to stop. And problems begin to appear such as muscle weakness and lack of coordination and balance. Other difficulties can include walking, vision problems, tremors, fatigue and depression.

The degradation can be progressive or direct. Multiple sclerosis treatment depends on the degree of the disease. It is an autoimmune disease that varies from relatively benign to disabling. Most people have the relapsing-remitting form, in which they go through phases of relapse and remission. Of these, more than half go on to develop progressive multiple sclerosis, in which symptoms gradually worsen without prolonged recovery phases. There are also people who go directly to this phase without passing through the first.

To understand why this happens, scientists at Yale University, Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, and the University of California examined more than a hundred people with multiple sclerosis and tested more than 500 DNA and plasma samples.

In this research, two cytokine molecules were found to be associated with rapid progression to the most severe form of the disease. Cytokines are a broad group of proteins involved in cell signalling that are particularly important for the immune function. These immunological markers are the macrophage migration inhibitory factor (white blood cells that eliminate foreign bodies such as bacteria) and D-DT, an enzyme found in chromosomes. Both are related to increased inflammation and have been associated with worsening of certain autoimmune diseases.

Using a genetic test, the best multiple sclerosis treatment can be determined

The research found that the genetic variant that appears most commonly in patients suffering from the progressive form of multiple sclerosis is also present in people with increased macrophage migration inhibitory factor, especially men.

This discovery is crucial for multiple sclerosis treatment. Using a simple genetic test, it is possible to determine if the disease is likely to progress more quickly. This means that multiple sclerosis treatment can be started sooner, making it more effective.

In addition, if these factors are acted on, the development of medicines could be accelerated, costs could be reduced, risks could be minimised and multiple sclerosis treatment genetically adapted to the patient could be provided.

This research joins others in the search for the best multiple sclerosis treatment. For example, using stem cells, which try to rebuild the immune system. The goal is to improve the quality of life of these patients and reduce the limitations that they have to face.


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