A drug that could halt the progression of multiple sclerosis (MS) may soon be developed thanks to a discovery by a team at the CHUM (Centre Hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal) Research Centre and the University of Montreal. The researchers have identified a molecule called MCAM (melanoma cell adhesion molecule) (image), and they have shown that blocking this molecule might delay the onset of the MS and significantly slow its progression. The encouraging results, from in vitro tests in humans and in vivo tests in mice, were published online on April 13, 2015 in the Annals of Neurology. The title of the article is “MCAM+ CD8 T Lymphocytes Mediate CNS Inflammation.” "We believe we have identified the first therapy that will impact the quality of life of people with multiple sclerosis by significantly reducing the disability and the disease's progression," said Dr. Alexandre Prat, senior author of the study, Researcher at the CRCHUM, and Professor in the Department of Neurosciences at the University of Montreal. Dr. Prat also holds the Canada Research Chair in Multiple Sclerosis. MS is a neurological disease that is characterized by paralysis, numbness, loss of vision, and gait and balance deficits that lead to chronic disability. There is no effective cure. The disease particularly affects young adults in northern countries. In Canada, nearly 75,000 people have MS. The brain is normally protected from outside attacks by presence of the blood-brain barrier (BBB). The BBB prevents immune cells - lymphocytes - from entering the central nervous system. In people with MS, however, there is often leakage of the BBB. Two types of lymphocytes, CD4 and CD8, then find a way to cross this protective barrier.
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