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Tracking down the causes of multiple sclerosis
Date:6/10/2009

This release is available in German.

Over 100,000 people suffer from multiple sclerosis in Germany alone. Despite intensive research, the factors that trigger the disease and influence its progress remain unclear. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology in Martinsried and an international research team have succeeded in attaining three important new insights into the disease. It would appear that B cells play an unexpected role in the spontaneous development of multiple sclerosis and that particularly aggressive T cells are activated by different proteins. Furthermore, a new animal model is helping the scientists to understand the emergence of the most common form of the disease in Germany. (Nature Medicine, May 31, 2009 & Journal of Experimental Medicine, June 1, 2009)

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) poses enormous problems for both patients and doctors: it is the most common inflammatory disease of the central nervous system in our part of the world and often strikes patients at a relatively young age. In some patients it leads to severe disability. Moreover, despite decades of research on MS, the causes and course of the disease are still largely unclear.

There is much evidence to support the fact that MS is triggered by an autoimmune reaction: immune cells that should actually protect the body against threats like viruses, bacteria and tumours, attack the body's own brain tissue. New treatments now available can attenuate the harmful immune reaction and thus delay the progress of the disease. However, the more effective the treatment, the more serious its side effects. Therefore, it is a matter of extreme urgency that new forms of treatment be developed which can differentiate in a targeted way between the immune cells that cause the disease and those that should be protected. A better understanding of the diseas
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Contact: Dr. Stefanie Merker
merker@neuro.mpg.de
49-898-578-3514
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
Source:Eurekalert  

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