In neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), nerves can become irreversibly damaged. Many researchers are now exploring whether immunotherapies can stop or even reverse the damage caused by neurological diseases.
A recent Stanford University study found that CD8 T cells (immune cells) relieved MS symptoms in mice once the cells were boosted with a peptide. Last month, researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, NY, found that immune cells called microglia can reduce unwanted neuron activity in dementia. Startup Tranquis Therapeutics launched this summer in hope of targeting microglia in neurodegenerative diseases.
A recent study from The Ohio State University and the University of Michigan found that a certain immune white blood cell, the granulocyte, might be key to at least partially reversing nerve damage. In the study, published in Nature Immunology, the researchers isolated granulocytes from mice. They found that these cells secrete growth factors that help nerve fibers regenerate. The researchers later identified similar cells in humans.
Said Dr. Benjamin Segal, professor and chair of neurology at The Ohio State College of Medicine and codirector of the Neurological Institute at Wexner Medical Center:
“In the future, this line of research might ultimately lead to the development of novel cell-based therapies that restore lost neurological functions across a range of conditions.”
Granulocytes were found to be similar to immature neutrophils, another type of immune cell. However, when granulocytes were injected into mice with injured nerves, the nerve fibers regrew nerve fibers. This did not happen in mice injected with neutrophils.
The researchers now intend to figure out how to enhance granulocytes, to see if they can be used to treat patients with neurological diseases and even traumatic injuries to the brain and spine.
Disclaimer: This article does not provide medical advice. Do not take action based solely on this article and always consult with an appropriate healthcare professional. This article is purely for informational purposes.