Northwestern University Research Breakthrough Selectively Represses the Immune System
Published: Nov 19, 2012
In a mouse model of multiple sclerosis (MS), researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health have developed innovative technology to selectively inhibit the part of the immune system responsible for attacking myelin—the insulating material that encases nerve fibers and facilitates electrical communication between brain cells. Autoimmune disorders occur when T-cells—a type of white blood cell within the immune system—mistake the body's own tissues for a foreign substance and attack them. Current treatment for autoimmune disorders involves the use of immunosuppressant drugs which tamp down the overall activity of the immune system. However, these medications leave patients susceptible to infections and increase their risk of cancer as the immune system's normal ability to identify and destroy aberrant cells within the body is compromised.