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Major breakthrough in possible MS cure

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
November 19th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Researchers believe they have discovered a breakthrough in treating, possibly curing, autoimmune diseases including MS and allergies. Tests on mice have worked very well and the research groups is now seeking funding to expand their testing.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Autoimmune diseases are those in which the body's immune system attacks healthy tissue. Normally, the immune system attacks foreign substances such as hostile bacteria and viruses, and unhealthy tissue, such as cancer cells. The immune system does this work constantly, from birth onwards, generally keeping you healthy.

However, autoimmune disorders cause the cells of the immune system to attack healthy tissue. In the case of MS, the immune system attacks the protective myelin sheath around nerves, causing irreparable nerve damage.

Now, researchers think they have developed a way to get the body to stop attacking itself.

Formerly, treatments have simply endeavored to suppress the immune system, a course of action that leaves patients susceptible for illness and cancer. However, a new treatment may not require immune suppression at all.

The treatment involves injecting microscopic balls called nanoparticles into the bloodstream where they are eventually passed through the spleen. The nanoparticles are coated with the proteins that the immune system is attacking.

In the spleen, the body's T-cells, which are among the most important cells in the immune system, are exposed to the proteins. This exposure convinces the T-cells the proteins are part of the body and should not be attacked.

It's a way of reprogramming the immune system. After showing the proteins to the T-cells, the nanoparticles, which are made of the same material that creates self-dissolving medical sutures, dissolve harmlessly.

In mice, a single treatment was enough to halt the progression of an MS disorder found in rodents.

The next step is to conduct further research, especially into what causes the immune system to attack the body in the first place. Of course, that requires funding, which is not readily available at the moment. Researchers are contacting a number of advocacy and funding agencies to see if they can get the money they need to develop what could be a cure for many autoimmune disorders.

Researchers say the treatment would not repair any damage already done by disease, but it could halt the progression of disease in patients. It is unclear if more than one treatment would be required.

The treatment is being considered for use in treating MS, Type-1 diabetes, and food allergies.

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