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Researchers led by UNC Lineberger member Jenny Ting, PhD, have made new discoveries that could lead to new drug targets for treating multiple sclerosis and other neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease. Their findings were published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.

Jenny Ting, PhD
Jenny Ting, PhD

Brain inflammation is a key component of multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, ALS, and most other major neurodegenerative diseases. How inflammation starts, how it’s sustained, and how it contributes to these diseases is not well understood, but scientists from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine have just found some important clues.

In a study published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, UNC researchers led by Jenny Ting, PhD, the William R. Kenan Distinguished Professor of Genetics, identified key molecules that drive brain inflammation in a mouse model of multiple sclerosis – molecules that are present at abnormally high levels in the brains of humans with the disease.

The findings show that these inflammatory molecules are ripe targets for further study and potential targets for future multiple sclerosis treatments. The research may also lead to a better understanding of Alzheimer’s, traumatic brain injury, stroke and other diseases that involve neuroinflammation.

“We need to better understand brain inflammation at the molecular level in order to treat neurodegenerative conditions,” said Ting, who is also a member of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. “Our study shows how two proteins that control inflammation are crucial to a particular kind of brain inflammation.”

~excerpt from an article on SOM Newsroom by Mark Derewicz – read the full article here