Researchers betting on “Trojan horse” to defeat multiple sclerosis

A group of researchers at the University of Regina have drawn on Greek mythology to try to fight multiple sclerosis. They try to use a protein to deceive the cells responsible for the disease and destroy them.

The researcher Josef Buttigieg, himself suffering from multiple sclerosis.

“As the Athenians besiege the city of Troy, they ask for a horse statue. The Athenians offer them one, but what the Trojans do not know is that some of their enemies are hidden in the gift they receive,” says the researcher.

One protein hides another

It is precisely this method of the poisoned gift that researchers are trying to use to stop multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks myelin, protects neurons, and leaves plaques of scar tissue.

“The result of the destruction of this protective layer is a short circuit of the neurons leading to paralysis,” says Buttigieg.

To attack the cells that destroy myelin, the researchers propose attaching two deadly proteins to the cells of the immune system that are attributed the cause of multiple sclerosis to a third, which these cells need.

It’s like the story of the Trojan horse. These cells are given the protein they want, but they do not know they have attached a “bomb.”

Josef Buttigieg, Associate Professor and Researcher in Neurobiology at the University of Regina
Experiments performed on mice since August 2018 give hope to researchers.

Mice highly affected by multiple sclerosis who received treatment could start walking again. The researchers also found that the cells that attacked the tissues of the four-legged patients are gone and that these tissues have begun to heal.

“By eliminating the cause of the problem, the body has the chance to repair itself,” says Buttigieg.

The researchers hope to start a clinical study soon.

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