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New multiple sclerosis culprit identified

A look at a potential culprit for causing multiple sclerosis.

It is still unclear what causes multiple sclerosis, but new research closes in on the faulty immune system mechanisms involved in the development of this condition.

Multiple sclerosis (MS), which is an autoimmune disease, causes the immune system to mistakenly attack myelin.

Myelin is the substance that coats axons, which are the projections that allow neurons to connect and transmit information.

This process is known as demyelination, and it affects the correct functioning of the central nervous system.

The condition is characterized by problems with balance and coordination, as well as with eyesight, to name but a few of its effects. In the United States, MS affects 250,000–350,000 people.

Researchers still don’t know for sure what causes MS, but little by little, they are uncovering the mechanisms at play and revealing more of the cellular culprits involved.

Now, neurologist Roland Martin and immunologist Mireia Sospedra — at the University of Zurich and University Hospital Zurich, both in Switzerland — and colleagues have shown that a type of immune cell called B cells are key to the autoimmune reactions that characterize MS.

In a study whose results are now published in the journal Cell, the scientists explain that B cells influence the activity of another type of immune cell, T cells, which then cause inflammation.

Read on: New multiple sclerosis culprit identified

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