Sunday, September 20, 2009

A Vaccine for Multiple Sclerosis?

It’s been known for a while that a neuropeptide called galanin is a protective force in the nervous system. Neuropeptides are small protein molecules that neurons use to communicate with each other. When a nerve is wounded, it has been found that levels of the neuropeptide galanin automatically increase to help limit cell death. A new study has found that high levels of galanin may be linked to protection of multiple sclerosis (MS), a neurological condition that affects how messages are transmitted to the body from the central nervous system. Researchers are hoping this could lead to vaccine treatment for MS.

The study was done by the University of Bristol, including researchers Professor David Wraith and Professor David Wynick. Although the team was quoted as saying that it may be a minimum of ten years before a vaccine could be created for multiple sclerosis, they are currently working toward the creation of the vaccine.

The study used a MS-like disease called experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) on mice to determine whether galanin affected the mice in a positive or negative way. They found that those without galanin were prone to developing a severe form of EAE, while those with high levels of galanin were resistant to EAE.

Although the study is early and much more research, tests, and clinicals need to be held before anyone can know whether this could lead to treatment or a vaccine for multiple sclerosis, experts are hopeful that this could be a turning point for MS, a disease that currently has no cure.

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