Canadian researchers open a new front in the fight against MS

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Discovery of calnexin protein’s role in the blood-brain barrier could lead to new MS treatments.

A discovery led by scientists at the University of Alberta and McGill University is providing hope of a new therapeutic target in Multiple Sclerosis (MS) patients, which could one day be used to prevent the symptoms and progression of the disease.

In examining donated human brain tissues, the researchers unexpectedly found that MS brains have extremely high content of a protein named calnexin, compared to those without MS. When the researchers tested the susceptibility of mice lacking calnexin to the mouse model of human MS (experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis), they were astonished to find that the mice were completely resistant to the disease.

...“We think this exciting finding identifies calnexin as an important target for developing therapies for MS,” said Luis Agellon, a professor at the McGill School of Human Nutrition. “Our challenge now is to tease out exactly how this protein works in the cells involved in making up the blood-brain barrier. If we knew exactly what calnexin does in this process, then we could find a way to manipulate its function to promote resistance for developing MS.”

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