Researchers Target MS in Inflammation Research

New research coming from the University of Adelaide shows that an enzyme might help control inflammation related to multiple sclerosis (MS).

Dr Iain Comerford has been studying how specific enzymes in cells of the immune system regulate immune cell activation and migration, specifically PI3Kgamma, which is involved in the activation and movement of white blood cells.

"There's already been worldwide interest in PI3Kgamma in relation to other human inflammatory disorders, such as diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis, and our study links this molecule and MS," said Comerford, a Multiple Sclerosis Research Australia Fellow at the University of Adelaide.

Through Comerford’s research in an animal model, the molecule has proved to be important in the development of experimental autoimmune encephalitis (EAE). The research team found that a genetic alteration that resulted in a high resistance to the development of EAE protected against nervous system damage typical of MS. Conversely, the presence of the PI3Kgamma molecule resulted in damaged myelin, resulting in inflammation in the spinal cord and myelin loss.

The team also looked at an oral drug that blocked PI3Kgamma, and the drug was effective in suppressing EAE.

"Our hope is that future therapies for MS might target this molecule, which could very specifically dampen the damaging inflammation in the central nervous system,” Comerford said. "It will now be crucial to determine whether targeting these molecules could be a safe and effective way to treat MS in humans."