A new discovery could lead to better treatments for multiple sclerosis (MS) and other autoimmune diseases, such as psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis, researchers report.
MS occurs when immune cells get into the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord), causing nerve damage that results in neurological problems.
However, the cause is unclear. Studies in a mouse model of MS – called experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) – have shown that immune T-cells, which secrete an immune molecule called IL-17, damage the myelin sheath surrounding nerves in the central nervous system (CNS).
Drugs that block IL-17 have shown promise in early clinical trials for treatment of relapsing-remitting MS. The drugs have already been licensed for treating psoriasis.