More than two million people are affected by the dilapidating disease multiple sclerosis, often referred to as MS.
MS affects the nerve cells in the brain and the spinal chord and symptoms can include double vision, blindness, psychological issues, or muscle issues.
In some cases, MS can be fatal and life expectancy is shortened. Although there is medication to help alleviate the symptoms there is no cure for the disease.
However, a scientist in the U.K. has made a major medical breakthrough in finding a cure.
Dr. Su Metcalfe, from Cambridge based company LIFNano Therapeutics, has found a way to halt the attack on the nerve cells.
With over 2.3 million people with MS around the world, a cure for this terrible disease would be a medical marvel.
High drug costs
“Some people get progressive MS, so go straight to the severe form of the disease, but the majority have a relapsing or remitting version,” Dr. Metcalfe told the Cambridge News.
“It can start from the age of 30, and there’s no cure, so all you can do is suppress the immune response, but the drugs that do that have side effects, and you can’t repair the brain. The cost of those drugs is very high, and in the UK there are a lot of people who don’t get treated at all.”
“I was looking to see what controls the immune response and stops it auto-attacking us,” she explains.
“I discovered a small binary switch, controlled by a LIF, which regulates inside the immune cell itself. LIF is able to control the cell to ensure it doesn’t attack your own body but then releases the attack when needed.
“That LIF, in addition to regulating and protecting us against attack, also plays a major role in keeping the brain and spinal cord healthy. In fact it plays a major role in tissue repair generally, turning on stem cells that are naturally occurring in the body, making it a natural regenerative medicine, but also plays a big part in repairing the brain when it’s been damaged.
“So I thought, this is fantastic. We can treat auto-immune disease, and we’ve got something to treat MS, which attacks both the brain and the spinal cord. So you have a double whammy that can stop and reverse the auto-immunity, and also repair the damage caused in the brain.”
This talented neuroscientist, who is also working on cures for Psoriasis and diabetes, is hopeful that with enough funding she and her team can find a potential cure for MS by 2020.
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