The finding has the potential to lead to new treatments for not only multiple sclerosis but other autoimmune diseases like type 1 diabetes.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an incurable autoimmune disease caused by the body's immune cells mistakenly attacking the nerves that send information to the brain and spinal cord. The condition affects nearly 3 million people worldwide.
Effector T cells are part of the body's first line against invaders. However, in MS, they fail to recognize that the protective fatty sheath (myelin) that covers nerve cells is a normal part of the body and attack it, causing inflammation and damage. Damage to the myelin interferes with the transmission of nerve impulses from all over the body to the brain. Regulatory T cells – T regs – on the other hand, are known to suppress excessive inflammation in autoimmune diseases.