Scientists find possible MS, protein link

March 24, 2017
Researchers at the University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, in Alberta, Canada, discovered an entirely new cellular mechanism that may to be linked to multiple sclerosis, and a potential hallmark that may be a target for future treatment. The finding opens the door to a brand new avenue of study in the battle against the disease.
 
Scientists have known that mitochondria, the powerhouse of the cell, is a possible link to MS, but have not been able to figure out how they malfunction. Using human brain tissue samples, the researchers discovered how two sub-components within a cell are miscommunicating in patients with MS, and identified how at least one protein (Rab32) is swooping in to trigger the dangerous dysfunction.
 
A part of the cell that stores calcium, endoplasmic reticulum (ER), gets too close to the mitochondria when massive amounts of Rab32 are present in the brain of MS patients. The resulting miscommunication with the calcium supply triggers the mitochondria to misbehave, ultimately causing toxicity for brain cells in MS patients. In healthy brain tissue samples, there's virtually no Rab32 present. Researchers don't know why or what causes an unwelcome influx of Rab32 but they theorize the defect could originate at the base of the ER. This finding may help scientists search for effective treatments that target Rab32 and determine whether there are other proteins that may be at work.
 
The study was published in the Journal of Neuroinflammation.

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