Mazmanian and his colleagues don't, however, suggest that gut bacteria are the direct cause of multiple sclerosis, which is known to be genetically linked. Rather, the bacteria may be helping to shape the immune system's inflammatory response, thus creating conditions that could allow the disease to develop. Indeed, multiple sclerosis also has a strong environmental component; identical twins, who possess the same genome and share all of their genes, only have a 25 percent chance of sharing the disease. "We would like to suggest that gut bacteria may be the missing environmental component," he says.
Monday, August 2, 2010
Professor Anderson says the findings are being used to develop a new class of drugs, called peptide-based immunotherapy.
This involves injecting patients with a small amount of the toxic peptides to "desensitise" their body to them.
The researchers say the first phase of trials of the therapy to assess safety and tolerability were completed in June, and final results are expected in coming months.