Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an unpredictable and complex disease and, until now, experts did not know exactly what triggers it, but it seems that the cause may finally receive the much-needed answers. Although no cure appeared on the horizon yet, the condition which affects 400,000 Americans and approximately 2.3 million people worldwide could be caused by a bacterial toxin called epsilon, a byproduct of Clostridium perfrigens, which is responsible for about one million cases of food-borne illness per year. Experts have been suspecting that multiple sclerosis is triggered by a combination of environmental and genetic factors and, after latest studies, they also believe that undercooked food, especially meat could speed up the evolution of the disease.
Doctor Jennifer Linden from Weill Cornell Medical College told Fox News that prior research in the laboratory has proved that patients with MS are 10 times more prone to the epsilon toxin than healthy people, and tests which show that the toxin causes MS-like brain damage could mean that the cause of multiple sclerosis finally receives answers. Doctor Susan Kohlhaas, Head of Biomedical Research at the MS Society stated that finding out the cause could help experts “to develop better treatments or even, one day, prevent the condition.” Although the research has proved to be interesting, the findings must now be validated in extensive studies that can conclude whether epsilon could trigger the condition.
C. Perfringens Type B
Lab tests in mice showed that a rare strain of C. perfringens causes multiple sclerosis-like damage in the brain and has the ability to travel through blood to the brain. Moreover, the team from Weill Cornell Medical College published a study in PLoS ONE which tackled the presence of epsilon in a young woman with MS; the correlation between the study in mice and people led researchers to believe that multiple sclerosis’ cause could finally receive the much-needed answers.
Doctor Linden concluded that epsilon could be the missing piece in the complex and unpredictable disease which affects plenty of Americans and, if this is the case, the research is also a starting point for treatments and cures with regard to the condition.
Linden added that the toxin possibly responsible for triggering multiple sclerosis also kills meningeal cells, which form the membrane between the skull and brain.
“What we’re finding out is this toxin seems to have an affinity for a lot of the cells affected in MS,” Linden said.
Although C. perfringens is a rather common bacterium, epsilon toxin is relatively rare. After the team from Weill Cornell Medical College tested 37 samples for the presence of C. perfringens and its byproduct, epsilon, the results pointed out the fact that 13.5 percent contained the bacteria, but only 2.7 percent had epsilon toxin. The study also shed light on the fact that epsilon is not necessarily transmitted through foods, so experts do not know how people contract this toxin.
Linden stated that, although it has not been proved whether epsilon causes MS or not, “it’s always a good idea to practice good personal hygiene and to cook and clean your food properly.”
The science is in initial phase, so researchers cannot know whether multiple sclerosis is caused by the bacteria which triggers food poisoning, but this condition may finally receive some answers with regard to what activates it.
By Gabriela Motroc