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Scientists fault gene mutation for inflammation

5/21/2015

A new mouse model study has identified a faulty "brake" within immune cells, one that should control inflammation, and points to a potential target for developing new therapies to treat multiple sclerosis. The results suggest new research models of multiple sclerosis symptoms such as movement disorders and balance control problems.

A mutation in the gene Nlrp12 was causing a malfunction in T cells. Normally, the protein the gene produces acts as a brake within T cells to control the inflammatory response. But a mutation in that gene disrupts the natural process and provokes severe inflammation. The resulting inflammation produced MS symptoms such as movement disorders and problems with balance control.

Results of mouse model studies sometimes do not translate to humans and may be years away from being a marketable treatment. However, according to researcher John Lukens, Ph.D., of the University of Virginia School of Medicine, "It's important to note that MS is a spectrum disorder - some patients present with paralyzing conditions and some patients don't. Not everybody's symptoms are the same, so this might give us a glimpse into the etiology or pathogenesis of that family of MS."

The findings were published by the journal Immunity.



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