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Steinman does believe that pathogens of some sort may be involved in MS, but not in the traditional way. The pathogen itself may not cause direct inflammation of the myelin sheath, nor does it kill the oligodendrocytes. Instead, the pathogen may trigger the body's own immune system to attack itself in a process known as molecular mimicry.
Molecular Mimicry: Viruses That Resemble Our Nerve Insulation
There is evidence that this molecular mimicry may be one cause of multiple sclerosis. A portion of a protein sequence of many viruses--including influenza, adenovirus (a virus that can cause the common cold), papillomavirus (common warts), and Epstein Barr virus (a virus that is present in 90% of all adults)-- is highly similar to a portion of the myelin basic protein (MBP) sequence.
So, if a person is infected by one of those viruses or, theoretically, any pathogen that contains this particular sequence, his or her immune system has a chance of recognizing the normal MBP sequence as the invading enemy sequence. Studies have shown that autoantibodies and self-reactive T cells in some MS patients recognize amino acids 84-103 of MBP, including a specific five amino acid sequence VHFFK. Interestingly, many viral proteins have peptide sequences that are similar to this 84-103 region of MBP, and especially to the sequence VHFFK.
One of the most promising discoveries for treating MS is the DNA vaccine. Steinman's team has been developing DNA tolerizing vaccines, or injection of DNA encoding proteins that program the immune cells to tolerate specifi c proteins rather than attack them.
Originally posted by FredT
Yeah. Id do anything to stop seeing Jerry Lewis.
But this seems to be the biggest advance in the whole MS game.
I wonder if you could immunosupress a person in the beginning stages of MS and slow the spread of the disease as a stop gap till a perfected treatment exists?
[edit on 6/1/06 by FredT]