London, Jan 23 : Researchers at University of Montreal have discovered a new therapeutic target for alleviating multiple sclerosis, a chronic autoimmune disease of the nervous system.
The study conducted by Dr. Alexandre Prat, a CHUM neurologist and researcher and a professor at the University of Montreal's Faculty of Medicine have found that an adhesion molecule known as ALCAM (Activated Leukocyte Cell Adhesion Molecule), or CD166, plays a key role in the movement of certain types of white blood cells to the brain.
According to the research team, the molecule expressed by the endothelial cells of the brain, represents the new target to restrict the exodus of immune cells to the brain, thus reducing neuroinflammation and lesions characteristic of the disease.
The study was conducted using an in vitro human blood-brain barrier (BBB) model and an in vivo experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis mouse model.
The researchers found that increased transmigration of the immune cells led to increased permeability of the BBB and was the root cause of demyelinating lesions in the disease.
"Blocking the migration of immune cells across the BBB has long been considered a promising therapeutic approach to autoimmune diseases of the central nervous system," Nature Immunology quoted Dr. Prat, as saying.
"This study has given us new insight into the factors involved in the pathogenesis of immune reactions affecting the central nervous system and allowed us to identify potential targets to suppress neuroinflammatory processes," he added.
The study results showed that by blocking ALCAM/CD166 in vivo could effectively alleviate multiple sclerosis.