UC researchers land grant to study 'natural killer cells' in Multiple Sclerosis 05 October 2007
University of Cincinnati researchers will use a $1.7 million grant to see if natural killer cells, a first line of defense against infection, also provide protection against multiple sclerosis and related chronic inflammation.
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke awarded the five-year grant to Dr. Bibiana Bielekova, a UC associate professor of neurology and director of the Waddell Center for Multiple Sclerosis.
MS is an autoimmune disease, occurring when the body's own natural defense system starts attacking the myelin sheath -- or outer lining -- of nerves and neurons.
Patients with MS often have defects in the number or function of natural killer (NK) cells in their body.
"We aren't sure if NK cell deficiencies in MS cause the disease, or if the disease causes the deficiencies," Bielekova said in a press release. "But we do know that the medications out there that successfully alleviate MS symptoms have been found, in essence by accident, to improve NK cell activity."
Bielekova added: "Our ultimate goal now is to understand how NK cells work in the immune response and create more tolerable therapeutics that boost their regulatory action."
Source: Business Courier © 2007 American City Business Journals, Inc. (05/10/07)