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Epstein-Barr virus might kick-start multiple sclerosis

o determine how these over-reactive immune cells trigger the destruction of the myelin sheathing that insulates nerve cells. "The broadened response of the T cells could lead them to recognize and attack cells they aren't supposed to, like brain cells," said Münz. This process, called molecular mimicry, is seen in other autoimmune disorders, such as lupus.

Münz predicted that Edwards, who is returning to Duke University this summer to complete her medical degree, could help bridge the gap between the research worlds of infectious diseases and autoimmune diseases. "It's an exciting new field to which Nancy could greatly contribute," he said.

Whatever the ultimate cause of MS, Edwards finds the therapeutic implications of her work exciting. "For some reason, MS patients chronically accumulate these hyper-responsive T cells," she said. "And if these cells are indeed involved, either directly or indirectly, in central nervous system injury and inflammation, interfering with them could prove effective."


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Source:Howard Hughes Medical Institute


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