Eureka Theres Gold in MS Drugs

In the last part of nineteenth century, French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot used gold injections to treat MS because it was shown to be an effective treatment for syphilis, another disease that can affect the nervous system. While this idea may at first seem ridiculous, recent research at Harvard Medical School has shown that gold and other metals, such as platinum, work by stripping bacteria and virus particles from the grasp of a key immune system protein, thus making the protein inactive. The protein MHCII normally holds pieces of invading bacteria and virus to the cell surface. When the cell recognizes that these invaders are present, it starts a normal immune response. In an autoimmune disease, this response goes awry and the body turns on itself causing diseases like type I diabetes, lupus, or rheumatoid arthritis.

cially designed in a laboratory to recognize one specific type of foreign substance. Tysabri is only available by injection and, like other MS drugs, has some side effects, including nausea, headache, abdominal pain, and infection.

MS drugs that are still in development include those that are being currently used for cancer and for lowering cholesterol. The link between these drugs and their method of blocking the progression of MS is being determined. There is still much research being devoted to learning more about MS, finding better treatment options, and, some day, discovering a cure.

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