Manitoba

U of M researchers study possible MS treatment

Researchers at the University of Manitoba have uncovered a potential treatment for multiple sclerosis that could also serve as a disease marker.

Treatment with protein Neuregulin-1 beta 1could potentially slow progression of multiple sclerosis

U of M researchers have found a potential Neuregulin-1 beta 1 protein treatment for MS that could balance out the immune system and slow disease progression. (CBC)

Researchers at the University of Manitoba have uncovered a potential treatment for multiple sclerosis (MS) that could also help predict if someone might develop the disease.

The new study, led by Hardeep Kataria (PhD) and published this week in the peer-reviewed neurology journal Brain, focuses on cell protein Neuregulin-1 beta 1. Researchers found a link between a decline in Neuregulin-1 beta 1 levels and the onset — and progression — of MS.

The protein "could be potentially used as an early disease marker to help in MS diagnosis," Soheila Karimi (PhD) of the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, the senior author of the study, said in a news release. 

"This is an important observation because there is currently an unmet need for early disease markers for MS. This could lead us in the future to predicting whether someone may develop the disease," Karimi said.

Karimi also said the team is encouraged about the potential of a treatment — by using the Neuregulin-1 beta 1 protein to replenish the decreasing protein levels that they observed in MS progression, it could balance out the immune system again.

Researchers say that this therapy may also slow the severity of disease outcomes.

"This study is important because MS is a devastating disease and it most often happens in young adults who are between 20 and 49 years old," said Karimi.

The MS Society of Canada has provided additional funds for further research into the effectiveness of Neuregulin-1 beta 1 treatment for MS, including its ability to repair damage done to the nerve fibres in the brain and spinal cord during progressives phases of the disease.

With about 77,000 people living with MS and 11 new daily cases, Canada is listed among those with the highest MS rates globally, according to the MS Society of Canada. 

The MS Society of Canada, Diagnostic Services Manitoba and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research backed the research.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Orinthia Babb is a reporter with CBC News. She was also an associate producer with CBC Manitoba's current affairs department. Contact her via email: orinthia.babb@cbc.ca

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