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Name: iguanajoe
Status: N/A
Age: N/A
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: Around 1993

I have recently read that interferon is being used as a treatment for multiple sclerosis. Please explain how it affects the nerve tissue and how effective it is.

Interferon is a cell to cell chemical messenger which essentially protects cells from viruses. That is, when a virus infects a cell, it sends out interferon, which is received by neighboring cells. A biochemical reaction then follows which builds the cells resistance viruses, and hopefully, it will be enough to prevent the virus from spreading. If there is work with interferon and MS, perhaps some researchers believe that MS is caused by a viral infection that destroys nervous tissue. r, that viruses cause some genetic mutation which compromises the maintenance of healthy nervous tissue. By the way, the genetic cause for another muscular-nervous disorder, Lou Gherigs Disease or ALS, was recently found to be a hereditary genetic disorder. People susceptible to ALS did not have a gene which codes for a certain superoxide dismutase antioxidant enzyme, necessary to maintain healthy nervous tissue and prevent it from free radical destruction. Maybe the cause of MS is similar.


A quick scan of midline produces the following rationale. MS is an autoimmune disease, that is, the body's immune system attacks some critical cell type in your own body. The defense system has been turned against the owner. In MS, the immune system attacks the insulating sheath around nerves that allows electrical signals to be transmitted correctly. It does not attack the nervous cells directly. The immune system cells that do this use one type of interferon (IF-gamma) as an attractant chemical to help them do this nasty piece of work. So, IF-gamma makes MS worse. Another interferon, IF-beta, appears to block the immune cells from secreting IF-gamma, so they cannot recruit their neighbors to help them destroy the insulating sheath. So there you have it. Clinical trials in the US are just being done now to assess how well this works. By the way, the insulating sheath that is attacked in MS is called *myelin* and the cells that form it are called glial cells (general term) or Schwann cells (specific term to myelin). Hope this is of use. It is a fascinating area.


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