CNS News & Events

TRAP-ing cellular changes in Multiple Sclerosis

29 Jan 2014
Pictured: Dr Eric Downer (right) and Mr. Teun Kuijper (left) (Image by A. Toulouse, Dept Anatomy/Neuroscience, UCC)

TRAP-ing cellular changes in Multiple Sclerosis

UCC’s Dr Eric Downer (Dept. Anatomy and Neuroscience) and Neurologist Dr. Orna O’Toole (Mercy University Hospital) have successfully been awarded funding under UCC’s School of Medicine Translational Research Access Programme (TRAP). The study entitled “Interferon-β signalling as a Cannabinoid target in Multiple Sclerosis” was one of seven projects awarded funding under the 2013 call.


Previous data from research undertaken by Dr. Downer has indicated that cells isolated from patients with Multiple Sclerosis, and not cells isolated from healthy individuals, respond to cannabinoid therapy in terms of boosting protective endogenous interferon-β signature. Under the current TRAP award, this project is being developed in Dr. Downer’s laboratory at UCC, with patient recruitment currently taking place in collaboration with Consultant Neurologist Dr. Orna O’Toole at the Mercy University Hospital.

Preliminary data from Dr. Downer’s laboratory, collated by visiting research scientist Mr. Teun Kuijper (Avans Hogeschool), indicates that distinct alterations in signalling events regulating interferon-β production occur in cells isolated from MS patients when compared to healthy control individuals. The lab’s data also demonstrate that cannabinoids may uniquely target these signalling events. This is important in not only improving our understanding of peripheral inflammatory changes that occur in individuals afflicted with Multiple Sclerosis, but may indicate how cannabinoid-based therapy may be able to control the progression of the disease. While cannabis-based treatments have been shown to provide relief of symptoms in MS, research on their potential to slow the disease itself is still in its early stages.




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