Researchers were able to successfully prevent the development of multiple sclerosis (MS) in mice by using a drug that blocks the production of the regulatory protein sirtuin 1 (SIRT1), a study has shown. Results of this study are published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.

In the study, scientists from the Gladstone Institutes found that SIRT1 is involved in T helper cells (Th17) production, which activate the immune system. Blocking SIRT1 prevented the onset of autoimmunity and enhanced the production of regulatory T cells (Tregs) while suppressing Th17 creation. The team treated mouse models of MS with a drug that inhibits SIRT1. The mice behaved normally after treatment and no signs of inflammation or cell damage in their spines, which are classic markers for MS. SIRT1 was previously thought to possess anti-inflammatory properties, but findings from the study suggest more complex effects.

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Study results show that in immune cells, SIRT1 appears to have a pro-inflammatory role, allowing it to be a target for treating autoimmune disorders. Scientists plan to test this approach in other autoimmune disorders.

For more information visit gladstone.ucsf.edu.