Degenerative Diseases, Disease, Health Studies

Rogue Protein Implicated in Multiple Sclerosis

Scientists have made a breakthrough discovery in understanding multiple sclerosis (MS), a disease that attacks the central nervous system. In a study published in Frontiers in Neurology, researchers from the University of Surrey have found a misfolded, or “rogue” protein in MS. This discovery indicates MS has more in common with Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and ALS than previously recognized, as earlier research has demonstrated a similar rogue protein plays a role in those diseases. They hope this discovery will lay the groundwork for greater insights into MS, and new treatments for neurodegenerative diseases.

 In this most recent study, scientists from the University of Surrey, the University of Texas Medical Center and PrioCam Laboratories were able to create unique molecules, called antibodies, to combat these rogue proteins.  There was an unexpected development when these antibodies were also able to recognize rogue proteins in Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, along with molecules associated with other neurodegenerative disorders.

The team was initially working to develop a diagnostic test that would reveal Alzheimer’s disease before a person experienced obvious symptoms. They developed antibodies that bind to the rogue proteins that are hallmarks of that disease.

Using these antibodies to investigate the possibility that rogue proteins were present in the brain tissue and spinal fluid of MS patients, the researchers concluded that multiple sclerosis may also be a result of a protein that adopts a permanent rogue state.

Dr. Mourad Tayebi of the University of Surrey said:

Multiple sclerosis represents a substantial health burden, affecting the quality of life of many people. Our discovery proposes a new and alternative way to conduct research into multiple sclerosis, by, for the first time, identifying a clear link to other neurodegenerative diseases. The results are important in redefining the molecular and cellular make-up of these diseases, and provides an important milestone in the quest for a laboratory test and an effective cure.

Dr Monique David of PrioCam is the co-senior author of the study. She summed up the importance of the findings, saying the research indicates these rogue proteins “share a common structure and may share similar pathogenic mechanisms.” This research has definitively linked the existence of the misfolded proteins to multiple sclerosis.