Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada

Funded Research

The Interleukin-1 Cytokine System as a Target for the Treatment of Multiple Sclerosis

Year Awarded: 2019

Term: 3 years

Funding Amount: $385,290

Affiliation(s): Laval University

Province(s): Quebec

Researcher(s): Dr. Steve Lacroix

Impact Goal(s): Advance Treatment and Care, Understand and Halt Disease Progression

Summary: The molecule, interleukin (IL)-1ß, has been identified as a key messenger involved in the development and severity of central nervous system autoimmunity. IL-1ß may be acting like a key that opens the door to the central nervous system, allowing entry of aggressive immune cells in to the brain and spinal cord, and acts to enhance their destructive activity. This research aims to understand how IL-1ß is involved in MS, including when it exerts its detrimental actions, how these effects are mediated, and whether its negative effects can be inhibited by existing therapeutics.

Project Description: This group discovered an inflammatory mediator called interleukin (IL)-1ß that is critical to the development of MS-like disease in an animal model (also known as experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE)). They established that IL-1ß drives neuroinflammation by acting at the blood-central nervous system (CNS) barrier. Despite this breakthrough, only limited information is available regarding the multiple roles that IL-1ß might play within the CNS. This research will test the hypothesis that if you inhibit the IL-1ß pathway, you may be able to prevent loss of neurological function in MS. This research aims to elucidate the mechanism of action underlying the detrimental effects of IL-1ß in MS and determine whether interfering with IL-1ß function using clinically approved drugs will inhibit its adverse effects.

Potential Impact: A greater understanding of interleukin (IL)-1ß, its mechanism of action and how it contributes to the detrimental effects in MS is an important outcome of this work. Therapies that can hinder the negative effects of IL-1ß could reduce early events that support the development and progression of MS. This work has the potential to identify new options to treat MS patients. 

Project Status: In progress

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