Alzheimer's Protein Could Help MS: Amyloid-Beta May Thwart Attack on Central Nervous System
Sanders, Laura, Science News
A much-maligned molecule that is devastating in the brain may have therapeutic potential outside it. The amyloid-beta protein, which piles up in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease, reverses paralysis in mice with symptoms of multiple sclerosis.
The unexpected finding, published in the Aug. 1 Science Translational Medicine, could mean that A-beta or molecules like it may one day form the basis of a treatment for multiple sclerosis in people.
In MS, rogue immune cells penetrate the brain and spinal cord and attack myelin, a substance that is necessary to keep nerve cell signals moving at full speed. Damage and inflammation from this attack can leave a person with paralysis, numbness, vision problems and extreme fatigue.
A-beta is found in the brains of people with MS, but scientists do not know precisely what effect it has there, if any. To investigate that question, Lawrence Steinman of Stanford University and colleagues tried injecting A-beta into mice's abdomens, thinking it would worsen symptoms. "We expected that either nothing would happen or the disease would worsen because this is an infamous, villainous molecule," he says.
Instead, the mice got better. In several different kinds of mice designed to have symptoms similar to the human disease, A-beta injections into the body reduced paralysis and lowered brain inflammation. …