Autoimmune experts discover a new pathway for multiple sclerosis R&D

Blocking the cascade of events that trigger autoimmune disease is a key focus in multiple sclerosis research. And a multidisciplinary team of investigators in Singapore says they have figured out one piece of the puzzle that could offer a new discovery pathway for the disease.

Xin-Yuan Fu

Team leader Professor Xin-Yuan Fu and Wanqiang Sheng from the National University of Singapore identified a new type of T helper cells named TH-GM. Responding to a signal from IL-7, the STAT5 protein triggers TH-GM to go on a neuroinflammatory rampage. Blocking IL-7 or STAT5, they write in the journal Cell Research, would therefore offer a new avenue of drug research.

Richard Flavell, the noted Yale investigator and Howard Hughes Medical Institute researcher, noted "that the results from the study may now provide a mechanistic link between IL-7/STAT5-mediated signaling and T helper cell-mediated pathogenicity," according to a statement. And Fu and his team are doing more research on TH-GM in search of new therapies for autoimmune diseases.

Fu worked at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and at Yale University School of Medicine before being named associate professor of pathology and immunology at Yale before moving to Singapore.

This IL-7/STAT5 pathway builds on the work Fu has been doing over the past 22 years on the whole JAK-STAT field, which has spurred the development of several medicines. MS is one of the biggest autoimmune diseases, afflicting some 2.5 million people worldwide.

- here's the release