Health — 28 October 2013

By Pat Anson, Editor

A common bacteria found in soil has been detected in humans for the first time, leading scientists to believe it may trigger multiple sclerosis (MS), a chronic autoimmune disease. It also gives them hope for finding a new treatment or even a cure for MS.

Researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College and The Rockefeller University were the first to identify the bacterium, Clostridium C. perfringen Type B, in humans. Their study is published online in PLoS ONE.

“This bacterium produces a toxin that we normally think humans never encounter. That we identified this bacterium in a human is important enough, but the fact that it is present in MS patients is truly significant because the toxin targets the exact tissues damaged during the acute MS disease process,” says the study’s first author and senior investigator, K. Rashid Rumah, an MD/PhD student at Weill Cornell Medical College.

MS is a chronic disease which attacks the body’s central nervous system and is characterized by the destruction of myelin, the membrane that protects nerves in the brain and spinal cord. Once damaged, it inhibits the nerves’ ability to transmit electrical impulses, causing cognitive impairment and poor mobility.

The scientists say their study is small and must be expanded before a definitive connection between the bacteria and MS can be made, but they also say their findings are so intriguing that they have already begun to work on new treatments for the disease.

Read more at National Pain Report.

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About Author

Pat Anson, Editor

Pat is Editor in Chief of American News Report. He is a veteran journalist and a former correspondent and producer for HealthWeek (PBS), Nightly Business Report (PBS) and other nationally syndicated shows. Pat has won numerous journalism awards, including a Golden Mike award for investigative reporting.

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