The terrible disease multiple sclerosis – often abbreviated and more commonly known as MS – affects the nerve cells in the brain and the spinal chord and comes with a large number of both physical and mental symptoms. Double vision, blindness, psychological issues, or muscle issues – they’re all possible symptoms of MS.
In some cases, MS can be fatal and life expectancy is severely shortened. Although medication exists to treat multiple sclerosis in some capacity, there is no cure for the disease.
However, that may soon be a thing of the past as scientist Dr. Su Metcalfe is on the verge of a medical breakthrough.
With over 2.3 million people infected with the disease around the world, a cure for MS would be a medical wonder. Dr. Metcalfe thinks that the attack on the nerve cells can be halted thanks to a new medical development that has been made at her company LIFNano.
“Some people get progressive MS, so go straight to the severe form of the disease, but the majority have a relapsing or remitting version,” Dr. Metcalfe said to Cambridge News.
“It can start from the age of 30, and there’s no cure, so all you can do is suppress the immune response, but the drugs that do that have side effects, and you can’t repair the brain. The cost of those drugs is very high, and in the UK there are a lot of people who don’t get treated at all.”
Dr. Metcalfe uses the stem cell particle LIF that is a part of the immune cell, and this specific stem cell particle is able to control and confine the attack on your body.
“I was looking to see what controls the immune response and stops it auto-attacking us,” she explains.
“I discovered a small binary switch, controlled by a LIF, which regulates inside the immune cell itself. LIF is able to control the cell to ensure it doesn’t attack your own body but then releases the attack when needed.
“That LIF, in addition to regulating and protecting us against attack, also plays a major role in keeping the brain and spinal cord healthy. In fact it plays a major role in tissue repair generally, turning on stem cells that are naturally occurring in the body, making it a natural regenerative medicine, but also plays a big part in repairing the brain when it’s been damaged.
“So I thought, this is fantastic. We can treat auto-immune disease, and we’ve got something to treat MS, which attacks both the brain and the spinal cord. So you have a double whammy that can stop and reverse the auto-immunity, and also repair the damage caused in the brain.”
Of course, further research needs to be done but Dr. Metcalfe’s medical breakthrough does sound very promising and finally provides hope for a permanent cure. A date for a potential cure has been set at 2020, although that date might be a bit overzealous. Nonetheless, a cure in 2020 could be possible if tests are positive and enough research can be done.
“The 2020 date is ambitious, but with the funding we’ve got and the funding we’re hoping to raise, it should be possible,” she says.
Dr. Metcalfe and her company are already looking to take down other severe diseases as well.
“Psoriasis is high up on our list, and diabetes is another. Downstream there are all the dementias because a LIF is a major health factor for the brain. So if we can get it into the brain we can start protecting against dementia.”