Published: 28 November 2014

Multiple sclerosis research finds first evidence of rogue protein

New finding could lead to a better understanding of multiple sclerosis - a neurological condition which affects around 100,000 people in the UK - and new treatments against neurodegenerative diseases.

The Surrey-led research, published in the journal Frontiers in Neurology, has identified a rogue protein in multiple sclerosis that attacks the body's central nervous system. 

Scientists have previously known that rogue proteins cause brain damage in other diseases of the brain such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson's and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. In this study, scientists from the University of Surrey, University of Texas Medical Center and PrioCam Laboratories produced unique molecules, called antibodies, to fight against these rogue proteins. They discovered that these antibodies were able to recognise rogue proteins in Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, as well as additional molecules associated with other neurodegenerative diseases.

The antibodies were then used to investigate whether rogue proteins existed in the brain tissue and spinal fluid of patients with multiple sclerosis. The scientists concluded that multiple sclerosis may be caused by a protein that permanently adopts a rogue state.

Dr Mourad Tayebi, Senior Lecturer in Neuroimmunology from the School of Veterinary Medicine, 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 provide an important milestone in the quest for a preclinical laboratory test and an effective cure."

Read the full paper on the Frontiers website.

Learn more about School of Veterinary Medicine research and our programmes in Veterinary Medicine & Science and Biosciences and Medicine.

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