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Study suggests new B cell role in MS


A new study points a finger at a subset of B cells – the GM-CSF-producing B cells – as a key contributor in the inflammatory immune cell responses in multiple sclerosis. The results offer new insights into the role of B cells and their interaction with other immune cells in MS.

The authors, led by Dr. Amit Bar-Or at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital, discovered that GM-CSF-producing B cells were more frequent and more prone to activation in MS patients. This subset of B cells activated inflammatory responses of myeloid cells of the immune system. They also found that after B cell depletion therapy, the myeloid cells became much less inflammatory. This suggests that BCDT may work by lowering the number of GM-CSF-producing B cells, limiting both myeloid cell and T cell contribution to new disease activity.

According to Bar-Or, “The study is significant in discovering a new way by which B cells can contribute to abnormal immune responses in MS which reinforces the rationale for the use of B cell depletion therapy. Furthermore, better identifying the particular subset of B cells responsible for new disease activity; we can look forward to more selectively targeting the “bad” B cells while leaving “good” B cells intact. This is important because B cells normally play key roles in our immune system, so more selective therapies offer the prospect of decreasing the risk of impairing the patients’ immune system in the long run.”

The findings were published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

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