New discovery could identify cause of MS
A major new discovery represents a step forward in the hunt for the cause of multiple sclerosis - potentially paving the way for new treatments.
Scientists have found a new cellular mechanism which may cause the disease and a potential hallmark which could be a target for future treatment of the autoimmune disorder.
Multiple sclerosis affects around 2.5 million people around the world. Typically, people are diagnosed in their 20s and 30s, and it is more common in women than men.
Using human brain tissue samples, researchers at the Universities of Exeter, UK, and Alberta, Canada, found a protein called Rab32 is present in large quantities in the brains of people with MS - but is virtually absent in healthy brain cells.
Where Rab32 is present, a part of the cell which stores calcium gets too close to the mitochondria.
The resulting miscommunication with the calcium supply triggers the mitochondria to misbehave, causing toxicity for brain cells in people with MS.
Researchers do not yet know what causes an unwelcome influx of Rab32 but they believe the defect could originate at the base of the cell.