Scientists are Seeking New Strategies to Fight Multiple Sclerosis
Published:22 Dec.2017    Source:ScienceNews
Multiple sclerosis is arguably the most complex disease ever described,” says Sergio Baranzini, a geneticist at the University of California, San Francisco. The disease is so complicated, he says, because it involves two of the body’s more complex systems — the nervous and immune systems. Scientists don’t yet have a good handle on where the damage begins.
Does a problem in the nervous system spur an immune response that leads to additional damage to the brain and spinal cord? Or does the immune system attack first, dispatching disease-fighting cells into the brain, where they batter and kill nerve cells? What causes the initial nerve damage or incites the immune attack is still a big question. Scientists aren’t even clear whether multiple sclerosis is a single disease or a multitude of maladies.

With so many unanswered questions, researchers have begun looking for potential treatment strategies outside the immune system. Targeting problems in the nervous system, together with the harmful immune reactions, is essential, scientists say. Some researchers have begun scrutinizing the malfunction of specific organelles within nerve cells, or neurons. Others are analyzing the gut’s community of microorganisms, its microbiome, which is considered a bridge between the environment and the body.