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Multiple sclerosis: Have researchers found a key to prevention?

Researchers are taking a closer look at a particular protein and its role in multiple sclerosis.

A potential new therapeutic target for multiple sclerosis has now been identified in a new study conducted by researchers at the University of Alberta and McGill University, both in Canada. The results are published in the journal JCI Insight.

Researchers have found that mice that lack a specific brain protein may be resistant to MS.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease affecting the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves, symptoms of which can include “cognitive impairment, dizziness, tremors, and fatigue.”

MS severity can vary wildly from case to case. In mild cases, a person might experience minor symptoms such as numbness in the limbs.

Severe cases of MS might result in more serious symptoms — including paralysis or loss of vision — but it is not currently possible for us to predict which cases will progress to this level and which will remain mild.

It is estimated that around 2.3 million people across the globe are living with MS, and the disease is “two to three times more common in women than in men.”

Scientists do not understand the causes of MS very well, but they do know that the disease begins when T cells — which are a type of white blood cell — enter the brain.

When in the brain, T cells attack a protective substance called myelin that sheathes the neurons in the brain and spinal cord, and which helps the nerves to conduct electrical signals.

The T cells erode myelin, resulting in lesions that leave the nerves exposed. As MS lesions become progressively worse, nerves become damaged or broken, thereby interrupting the flow of electrical impulses from the brain to the body’s muscles.

Read on: Multiple sclerosis: Have researchers found a key to prevention? 

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