According to research published in the journal Nature Communications, researchers have discovered a key protein involved in a “super-inflammatory” immune response that drives the progression of multiple sclerosis (MS) and other autoimmune diseases. 

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This specific chemokine receptor plays a role in moving T-cells around the body when they are in the super-inflammatory mode necessary to fight persistent infections or when attacking the body’s own tissues, as seen in autoimmune diseases. The chemokine receptor CCR6 had been “widely assumed to be involved” in controlling the inflammatory response but researchers have now identified that the target is actually CCR2. 

“Everybody has been focussing on the CCR6 receptor as the one to target to control this inflammatory response,” says project leader Professor Shaun McColl, Director of the Centre for Molecular Pathology at the University of Adelaide. “We’ve now shown that the receptor to target is actually CCR2. Blocking CCR6 makes the disease worse. If we can find an antagonist to block the CCR2 receptor specifically on these T-cells, we should be able to control the progression of MS.” 

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