University of Montreal researchers have identified a new target for multiple sclerosis treatment that may help reduce symptoms, a study reports.
Multiple sclerosis is a chronic (long-term), progressive, degenerative disorder that affects nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord. Multiple sclerosis is widely believed to be an autoimmune disease, a condition in which the immune system attacks components of the body as if they are foreign. Multiple sclerosis affects over 250,000-500,000 people in the United States and may affect 2.5 million people worldwide. Multiple sclerosis affects two to three times as many women as men, and affects Caucasians more often. Most individuals experience their first signs or symptoms between ages 20 and 40.
In the new study, researchers investigated how immune cells entering the central nervous system may contribute to tissue injury in multiple sclerosis. They compared tissues from healthy people to those of multiple sclerosis patients. The study suggested that CD4 T cells, a type of white blood cell, express a molecule called NKG2C. This molecule was found to be highly toxic to tissues in the central nervous system.
The results showed that multiple sclerosis patients tend to have higher levels of CD4 T cells that express NKG2C, compared to healthy people. According to the scientists, targeting this pathway may lead to more direct treatments. These direct treatments may avoid the risk of infection and poorer quality of life, side effects of traditional multiple sclerosis therapies.
The scientists concluded that this discovery may lead to treatments that could reduce the symptoms of multiple sclerosis.
Marijuana is an integrative therapy that is supported by strong scientific evidence for reducing multiple sclerosis symptoms. Research suggests that marijuana may improve symptoms such as nerve pain, muscle spasms, and urinary problems.
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