ANU researchers such as Associate Professor Anne Bruestle believe that a drug used to treat sepsis will help people with MS | Canberra Times

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ANU researchers believe they may have found a drug that could help people with multiple sclerosis. Researchers said they have found out why certain cells in the body, known as Th17 cells, promote the onset of autoimmune diseases. A study outlining a new finding, which was a collaboration between ANU, the University of Queensland and Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz in Germany, has been published in Nature Communications. Researchers have discovered an unprecedented side effect of neutrophilic extracellular traps (NETs), which make TH17 cells “stronger and more dangerous”. NETs are produced by a subset of white blood cells called neutrophils. They capture and kill bacteria and are designed to protect the body from infection. READ MORE HEALTH: But ANU researchers say that NET, which in appearance and function resembles spider webs, has a “dark side”. Th17 cells are usually beneficial because they defend the body against bacterial and fungal infections, but when overactivated, they can cause severe inflammation. Th17 cells are responsible for promoting autoimmune diseases, including multiple sclerosis. Main author Dr. Alicia Wilson, from Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany, said the new research could lead to new therapies to help people with autoimmune diseases. “This finding is important as it provides a new therapeutic target for disrupting these harmful inflammatory reactions,” she said. “It opens the door to the development of new therapies targeting this harmful NET-Th17 interaction, and hopefully improves treatments for MS and other autoimmune conditions in the future.” ANU associate professor Anne Bruestle said a drug originally designed to treat sepsis could be used to target the poor Th17 cells and help patients with MS better manage their condition. “While we can not prevent autoimmune diseases like MS, we hope, thanks to these types of therapies, to treat the condition and make it more manageable,” she said. The drug Sepsis was developed by ANU professor Christopher Parish. “Our histone-neutralizing drug, mCBS, which was developed to treat sepsis, may also inhibit the side effects of NETs associated with running MS,” he said. Our journalists work hard to deliver local, up-to-date news to the community. Here’s how you can continue to access our trusted content:

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