October 3, 2019 – Rogue Cell


Anchor lead: A cell known by the acronym OPC may be critical in worsening MS, Elizabeth Tracey reports

Multiple sclerosis, where the body attacks the insulation around nerve cells known as myelin, affects almost a million people in the United States alone, often resulting in disability and sometimes death. Now research by Peter Calabresi, an MS expert at Johns Hopkins, and colleagues, points to a cell known by the shorthand OPC, as playing a critical role.

Calabresi: This cell that we thought would only do good things actually becomes a bad guy if you will and in the inflamed environment is actually propagating the inflammatory process. And so it speaks to the fact that cells have different functions. We’ve known this with the immune cells but with the glial cells we hadn’t realized, especially with OPCS, that they had this dual role, where sometimes they can repair the damage but if they’re in an inflamed environment that they actually participate in the inflammatory process.  :28

Calabresi says this knowledge may point the way to interrupting the process of OPCs going rogue, and perhaps stalling MS progression. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.