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Synthetic Vitamin A-Like Molecule Blocks Early MS

FRIDAY, May 22 -- A synthetic vitamin A molecule has shown promise as an early treatment for multiple sclerosis.

In tests in mice, Christian Klemann and colleagues at the National Institute of Neuroscience in Tokyo found that the man-made retinoid AM80 prevents early symptoms of the autoimmune disease by blocking the function of Th17 T-cells, a type of immune cell known to play a role in the onset of multiple sclerosis. However, AM80 did not prevent chronic symptoms of the disease, according to the findings published in the June issue of the American Journal of Pathology.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) attacks the central nervous system. It severs communication between the brain and spinal cord, causing issues from mild numbness in the limbs to paralysis or loss of vision. The disabling disease affects about 2.5 million people globally, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

The treatment -- which unlike some popular MS treatments didn't suppress the immune system and thus subject the patient to infection and other disease -- could be a "considerable intervention strategy for the acute phase of Th17-mediated autoimmune diseases such as MS," the researchers concluded.

More information

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society has more about MS.

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Posted: May 2009