Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a central nervous system autoimmune disease but molecular mechanisms underlying the disorder remain largely unknown. In May Nature Medicine, Christopher Lock and colleagues from Stanford University, California, show that gene-microarray analysis of multiple sclerosis lesions has revealed potential new therapeutic targets (Nature Med 2002, 8:500-508).

Lock et al. used microarray analysis to compare gene expression in acute and chronic MS lesions obtained at autopsy. They observed increased transcripts of genes encoding inflammatory cytokines, particularly interleukin-6 and -17, interferon-γ and associated downstream pathways.

In addition they chose two of these gene products as targets for therapy in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), a murine model with similarities to MS. They observed that knocking out granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (upregulated in acute MS lesions) ameliorated EAE in the acute phase. In contrast knocking out the immunoglobulin Fc receptor common γ chain (upregulated in chronic MS...

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