In multiple sclerosis, overactive inflammatory immune cells destroy the tissue that surrounds and insulates the nerves. Now, new research in mice reveals that activating a different group of immune cells could potentially counteract the destructive autoimmune reaction.
Researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine in California suggest that their findings could lead to new treatments for autoimmune conditions, such as multiple sclerosis (MS) and celiac disease.
In a recent Nature paper, they describe how they studied immune cells in a mouse model of MS and also from people with the disease.
They found evidence to suggest that there is a balance between the type of immune cell that causes inflammation and another type of immune cell that can suppress it. It appears that the balance is upset in autoimmune disease.
Senior study author Mark M. Davis, a professor of microbiology and immunology at Stanford, suggests that it could be possible to restore the balance by selectively stimulating the protective immune cells.
“If we could mobilize those cells to function more effectively in patients with autoimmunity,” he explains, “then we’d have a novel treatment for diseases like [MS].”
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