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A molecular key for delaying the progression of Multiple Sclerosis is found

Date: Source: University of the Basque Country Summary: In the lab it was possible to improve the symptoms in the chronic phase of the disease while encouraging the repair of the nervous tissue, and the challenge now is to move the research forward in humans.


Multiple Sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that attacks and destroys a structure known as the "myelin sheath," whose integrity is indispensable for the brain and spinal cord to function properly.

Current treatment of Multiple Sclerosis is based on modulating the activity of the immune system or preventing its cells from accessing the central nervous system and damaging it. These therapies are effective in the early phases of the disease, but they do not prevent its advance and the progressive functional deterioration.

During the progressive phase of the disease it is the microglial cells in the brain that are the main cause of the chronic inflammation responsible for the neurological deterioration. These microglial cells are the brain's sentries and react when faced with any damage or infection in it. This reaction, which is in principle beneficial, becomes harmful when it is prolonged over time, leading to chronic inflammation, and aggravates the disease and encourages its progression.

In the work just published it was possible to identify a receptor known as P2X4 present in the microglial cells that increases their anti-inflammatory potential in order to reduce the damage in Multiple Sclerosis and, above all, encourage the body's own repair responses.

This experimental development was conducted using animal models of this disease, thanks to which it was possible to discover that the drugs that activate this receptor improve the symptoms during the chronic phase of the disease when furthering the repair of the nervous tissue.

As Dr María Domercq of the UPV/EHU's Department of Neurosciences and who works at the ACHUCARRO centre for research in Leioa (Basque Country) pointed out, "We are witnessing a discovery that is opening up a new channel of pharmacological development for the treatment of the progressive phase of Multiple Sclerosis, and with it we want to open a new door on improving the life quality of people who suffer Multiple Sclerosis."

This ambitious study was developed by an international research group coordinated from the Basque Autonomous Community, specifically from Leioa, with research personnel from the ACHUCARRO research centre, the UPV/EHU, ciberNed and CICbiomaGUNE in collaboration with the technical contribution of professionals from the University of Hamburg in Germany, and the Institut de Génomique Fonctionnelle in Montpellier, France.

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Story Source:

Materials provided by University of the Basque Country. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

Alazne Zabala, Nuria Vazquez‐Villoldo, Björn Rissiek, Jon Gejo, Abraham Martin, Aitor Palomino, Alberto Perez‐Samartín, Krishna R Pulagam, Marco Lukowiak, Estibaliz Capetillo‐Zarate, Jordi Llop, Tim Magnus, Friedrich Koch‐Nolte, Francois Rassendren, Carlos Matute, María Domercq. P2X4 receptor controls microglia activation and favors remyelination in autoimmune encephalitis. EMBO Molecular Medicine, 2018; e8743 DOI: 10.15252/emmm.201708743

Cite This Page:

University of the Basque Country. "A molecular key for delaying the progression of Multiple Sclerosis is found." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 July 2018. <>.

University of the Basque Country. (2018, July 20). A molecular key for delaying the progression of Multiple Sclerosis is found. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 22, 2019 from

University of the Basque Country. "A molecular key for delaying the progression of Multiple Sclerosis is found." ScienceDaily. (accessed October 22, 2019).


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