TEHRAN, Sep. 21 (MNA) – Iranian scientists in Lund University have discovered a direct relation between MS and food.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system and renders the brain ineffective in sending messages to the rest of the body. Though we know relatively little about multiple sclerosis. Recently, it has been discovered that MS not only affects the brain tissue but also the intestinal system. This significant discovery by an Iranian scientist can be a new clue toward discovering methods to treat this disease.
In an exclusive interview with Mehr News Agency, Dr. Sharam Lavasani, Associate Professor in the Department of Biology, Lund University, explained about this recent discovery.
When did you begin your studies on MS and the intestinal system, and what led you to focus on the intestines of patients with MS?
It has been 10 years since we started this project. From the very beginning we have been conscious of the fact that one should not be totally focused on tissues attacked by the immune system. What we have learned from MS so far is that the immune system is attacked which causes the loss of the insulating myelin sheath. Thus, the transmission of signals from the brain to the various organs is impaired. In the past, there have always been speculations about the intestinal system as being affected by MS and now we have been able to present evidence for it.
But until now it has been thought that genetics is mostly responsible for MS?
Yes, for a long time genetics was held solely responsible for causing MS, and much research has been done into it; yet, no one has been able to prove that gene is the only deciding factor. It is now known, however, that environmental factors are also effective.
Does the intestinal system have anything to do with diet?
Definitely. That’s where the intestinal system comes into focus since the food that we consume ends up there. Therefore, we should accept this conclusion that diet is closely associated with MS and its development, as it is obvious that food after getting into the intestinal system, disrupts its bacterial composition.
What was the scientific communities’ attitude toward this discovery and at what stage is your project now?
10 years ago when the project was first started, no one believed that there could be a relationship between MS and the destruction of the nerve sheath, and the intestinal system and the bacteria residing in it. For this purpose, we carried out a significant experiment in 2010 in which certain probiotics were injected into mice with MS-like symptoms. During this experiment we found out that the course of the disease kept changing. The moment we infected the mice with MS, the intestinal system underwent sever reactions before showing the crippling effects of MS.
The results showed that when dealing with MS, one must consider various tissues as MS may not only attack the immune system. Perhaps, one of the main reasons that so far no permanent treatment has been found for this disease is that there hasn’t been an overall check-up of the patient’s body and only certain tissues have been examined. In this regard our research team is examining other factors causing inflammation to the intestines. Together with Mehrnaz Nouri, an Iranian PhD student in Lavand University, we are trying to find new ways to make the restoration of the intestine mucous membrane in MS patients possible.
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