New research carried out in Australia has provided hope that the inflammation caused by the degenerative disease multiple sclerosis (MS) could be controlled.
A team led by Dr Iain Comerford at the University of Adelaide was keen to understand how enzymes in the immune system regulate the activity of immune cells and they focused on the PI3Kgamma molecule known to be involved in the activation of white blood cells.
In an animal model, they found that PI3Kgamma is vital for the development of experimental autoimmune encephalitis (EAE). When it is present, there was evidence of damage to myelin in the spinal cord.
When a genetic modification knocks out PI3Kgamma, a high resistance to EAE is developed and the nervous system corruption typical of MS is prevented.
It is now hoped that an orally active drug could be developed for humans that would block the activity of PI3Kgamma at the first signs of MS.
NHS figures show there are approximately 100,000 people in the UK with the condition, which causes problems with movement, balance and vision.
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