Major breakthroughs seem to accelerate as more energy is dedicated to research in a field. This is true of gut microbiome research. Multiple Sclerosis is debilitating disease where our own immune system causes nerve damage by eating away at the protective covering of nerves.

Scientists at the University of Virginia (UVA) sought to find out what attacks the sheaths around nerves in the brain causing Multiple Sclerosis (MS). They found that the inflammation-causing mechanism could be turned off at its source, in the gut microbiome, according to a February 16 2023 report in New Atlas. This is a new approach to potentially treating multiple sclerosis, says Andrea Merchak, neuroscience doctoral candidate at UVA and lead author of the study.

Researchers in 2021 found that inhibiting a protein called Piezo1 produced by T-cells could allow the cells to decrease inflammation in mouse models.

Building on the 2021 work, the University of Virginia researchers targeted the regulator of inflammation-causing aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR). AHR is produced by T-cells, a type of white blood cell that battles invaders to the body. When the researchers blocked it in the guts of mice, they found that the microbiome was able to produce compounds such as bile salts and short-chain fatty acids that made it difficult for the T-cells to thrive, and decrease the inflammation in mice leading to MS.

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