Discovery shines light on mys­tery of cell death in MS

Iran Daily - - Health -

Re­searchers at the Uni­ver­sity of Al­berta have dis­cov­ered a unique process of brain cell death that af­fects the cells that are most vul­ner­a­ble in mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis (MS).

Af­ter iden­ti­fy­ing the process called py­rop­to­sis, or fiery death, the re­searchers were able to block the en­zyme in the brain that is re­spon­si­ble for it, us­ing a drug that could po­ten­tially treat MS, med­i­calx­ re­ported.

Chris Power, a neu­rol­o­gist, lead au­thor of the study and co-di­rec­tor of the Ual­berta MS Cen­ter, said, “This could be a game changer, be­cause we dis­cov­ered a fun­da­men­tal mech­a­nism by which brain cells are dam­aged in MS that cou­ples in­flam­ma­tion with neu­rode­gen­er­a­tion.

“The drug is al­ready known to be safe in hu­mans.”

MS is a com­mon dis­ease of the brain and spinal cord that af­fects peo­ple in the prime of their life. There is cur­rently no cu­ra­tive treat­ment for MS and its cause re­mains un­known. On av­er­age, 11 peo­ple with MS are di­ag­nosed daily and Al­berta has one of the high­est rates of the dis­ease in the world.

The pub­li­ca­tion of the study in PNAS marks the first molec­u­lar anal­y­sis of py­rop­to­sis in the hu­man brain.

Py­rop­to­sis is a type of pro­grammed cell death that is associated with in­flam­ma­tion, but its role in MS was pre­vi­ously un­known. Im­por­tantly, Power’s lab was able to show py­rop­to­sis in both brain tis­sues from MS pa­tients and in lab mod­els of MS.

Karen Lee, vice pres­i­dent of re­search at the MS So­ci­ety of Canada, said, “The study’s find­ings make a key con­tri­bu­tion to the MS field in iden­ti­fy­ing a novel mech­a­nism that con­trib­utes to pro­gres­sion in MS.

“The MS So­ci­ety of Canada is en­cour­aged by the re­sults of this study and what it means for peo­ple liv­ing with MS — hope for an­other av­enue through which treat­ment op­tions can be ex­plored to stop MS in its tracks.”

Power’s lab found that the drug known as VX-765 pro­tected oligo­den­dro­cytes, the cells that in­su­late nerves in the brain and are sus­cep­ti­ble to dam­age in MS. VX-765 is cur­rently in clin­i­cal tri­als for epilepsy.

Bri­enne Mcken­zie, first au­thor on the study and a PHD stu­dent in the U of A’s Fac­ulty of Medicine and Den­tistry, said, “We think this drug would break the cy­cle of neu­ro­toxic in­flam­ma­tion and thus pre­vent fu­ture loss of brain cell in MS.”

Power and his team be­lieve iden­ti­fy­ing this mech­a­nism also opens the doors to new in­di­ca­tors for mon­i­tor­ing dis­ease pro­gres­sion of MS, which has been chal­leng­ing since symp­toms can vary widely be­tween pa­tients.

Avin­dra Nath, clin­i­cal di­rec­tor of the Na­tional In­sti­tute of Neu­ro­log­i­cal Dis­or­der and Stroke at the Na­tional In­sti­tutes of Health in Bethesda, MD, said, “Ex­ist­ing MS treat­ments work to re­duce in­flam­ma­tion, but there is noth­ing that tar­gets the brain cells them­selves.

“This pa­per iden­ti­fies a clin­i­cally rel­e­vant novel path­way that opens the doors to new ther­a­peu­tic tar­gets that pre­vent cell dam­age.”

The study was a col­lab­o­ra­tion with a lab­o­ra­tory at the Na­tional In­sti­tutes of Health in Wash­ing­ton, DC. The MS So­ci­ety of Canada and the Uni­ver­sity Hos­pi­tal Foun­da­tion pro­vided fund­ing sup­port for the re­search.

“The Uni­ver­sity Hos­pi­tal Foun­da­tion is proud to be a long-time sup­porter of Dr. Power’s ground­break­ing re­search. Along with our gen­er­ous donors, I con­grat­u­late Dr. Power on his discovery, and look for­ward to his fu­ture suc­cess,” said Joyce Mall­man Law, pres­i­dent of the Uni­ver­sity Hos­pi­tal Foun­da­tion.

The study ‘Cas­pase-1 in­hi­bi­tion pre­vents glial in­flam­ma­some ac­ti­va­tion and py­rop­to­sis in mod­els of mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis’ was pub­lished in PNAS.

med­i­calx­ Christo­pher Power and Bri­enne Mcken­zie in the lab where they dis­cov­ered a unique process of brain cell death that af­fects the cells that are most vul­ner­a­ble in mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis.

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