Monthly Archives: November 2017

MS and Stem Cell Particles

A picture of me.

Bill Walker                                                                   

This is a reprint from a recent study:

Dr. Metcalfe, who is based at Cambridge University in England, is currently looking for funding to further develop her theory that using a stem cell particle called a LIF would switch off the body’s auto-immune cells and help repair the brain.

In addition to being able to switch off the body’s autoimmune response, LIF also protects the brain and spinal cord — the areas affected by multiple sclerosis — and aids in repairing tissue, including brain tissue.

The research has not been smooth sailing. Metcalfe has found that LIF cannot survive outside the cell for more than 20 minutes before being broken down by the body, making it difficult to use as a therapy. However, she has found that nanoparticles could be the answer to the problem, as they can be used to help deliver the LIF therapy. By using antibodies with the nanoparticles, the therapy can be directed to certain areas of the brain — helping to repair damage caused by multiple sclerosis.

Metcalfe is now looking for research funding and hopes that one of the big pharmaceutical companies will step in. She hopes to begin clinical trials of the therapy by 2020.

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MS and Gut Bacteria

A picture of me.

Bill Walker

This is a reprint from a recent study.

A study has found that microbes in your gut may influence the progression of multiple sclerosis (MS). It could be a key step towards specific treatment, and help solve what causes MS.

Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, two different teams conducted separate research and made the same findings. One was from the University of California, San Francisco, and the other from the Max Planck Institute in Germany.

The first team investigated the gut microbiomes of 71 MS patients and 71 control subjects. They identified specific species of bacteria that were more common in the former than the latter. Next, they exposed these bacteria to human immune cells, and found that two species triggered cells to become pro-inflammatory. One found at lower levels triggered immune responses.

In tests on mice, they found that these bacteria had a similar effect. Replacing mice microbiomes with those from an MS patient caused the mice to lose immune-regulatory cells and develop neurodegeneration, a pathway to MS.

The second study came to a similar conclusion, finding that microbiome transplants could increase symptoms in mice.

“Two different groups, using two separate cohorts of patients and controls, and two distinct mouse models of the disease, saw very similar results,” Egle Cekanaviciute said in a statement, who was involved in both studies. “This is very promising evidence that we’re on the right track.”

MS affects about 2.5 million people across the globe, and is known as an autoimmune neurodegenerative disorder. It can lead to loss of vision, weakness, and even paralysis. It’s caused by the immune system attacking the insulation around nerve cells, called myelin, but scientists have been at a loss to explain why this occurs.

These latest studies could provide an answer. While the microbiome probably isn’t the only trigger, it could play a role. This could lead to some new treatments in the future to help tackle MS.

“The microbiome is very malleable,” said Sergio Baranzini, also involved in both studies. “You could relatively easily change it in an adult who has MS or is susceptible – something you cannot do with their genetics. This is not a magical approach, but it is hopeful.”