Researchers demonstrate both genetic and pharmaceutical evidence for the role of
a protein called collagenase-2 in the development of multiple sclerosis (MS),
providing a potential new way to combat this debilitating disease.
Collagenase-2 is a member of a protein family called matrix
metalloproteinases (MMPs, collagenase-2 is MMP8), a large group of enzymes that
break down collagen and other components of the body's connective tissue. MMPs
have been implicated in contributing to MS by degrading the tissue that
maintains the blood-brain barrier, thus allowing unwanted cells to invade and
break down nerves. In fact, MMPs are found in elevated amounts in the blood and
spinal fluid of diseased individuals.
Using a mouse model of MS, Carlos
Lopez-Otin and colleagues performed two analyses on MMP8 to determine how
relevant this protein is to the disease. First, they developed mutant mice
deficient in the gene for MMP8 and found that these mice had a fewer invading
cells in the brain, fewer damaged nerves, and a general improvement in their
They also gave diseased mice a drug that blocked MMP8
activity and found that this, too, could reduce the severity of disease
symptoms. Taken together, these promising findings provide the first causal
evidence for MMP8 in the development of MS, and offer a new therapeutic target.
----------------------------Article adapted by Medical News Today
from original press release.