Do fats control immune cell behaviour in MS

Dr Jury and her team

Project lead: Dr Elizabeth Jury

Based at: University College London

Grant we awarded: £200,866

In MS, our nerves are attacked by our own immune system. A variety of immune cells are involved, including a group called T cells.

T cells work by passing signals through their surface, made up of a fatty layer. The amount and types of fat influence how easily the cells become activated.

Scientists have discovered that the fatty layer around T cells is altered in MS, which could help to explain their altered behaviour.

What happens in the project?

Our researchers want to know if targeting this pathway could be beneficial in MS. They will focus on the role of a molecule called LXR, which controls fat production in T cells. They want to know if regulating fat production in T cells can help to restore their function, and stop them causing damage.

Dr Elizabeth Jury will lead the project, in collaboration with Dr Ines Pineda-Torra, Dr Rachel Farell and Dr Marsilio Adriani.

How will it help people with MS?

If we find that controlling LXR changes how T cells behave in MS then we can look for drugs to target it. We already know a lot of molecules that help produce fats in the body, and medicines – like statins – that target some of them.

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MS researcher at work in lab, using a pipette