We have four therapeutic objectives:
- Our first therapeutic objective is to prevent the onset of the disease through a better understanding of genetic susceptibility as well as environmental factors that are also necessary for the outbreak of the disease. Genetic studies enable us to understand better the mechanisms of the disease depending on the genes involved, while the Epstein-Barr virus infection is currently receiving the most attention among the environmental factors in trying to understand how it modifies the immune system of people predisposed to develop MS.
- Our second therapeutic objective is to prevent relapses caused by invasion of the central nervous system by immune cells of blood origin. What are these immune cells? What are their characteristics? What are the factors that cause their activation and expansion? Even though we currently have increasingly potent drugs to prevent relapses, their action mechanism is not always fully understood and their targets are probably not yet sufficiently specific to MS.
- Our third therapeutic objective is to prevent the progression of the disease even in the absence of a relapse, since there is persistent inflammation within the central nervous system itself that leads to nerve fibre degeneration and nerve cell death. To that end, we need to know more about the cells responsible for this chronic inflammation, and be able to deactivate them with drugs that can enter the nervous system through the blood-brain barrier.
- Our fourth therapeutic objective is to repair existing lesions, and therefore to understand and quantify the mechanisms of demyelination and remyelination, to stimulate the latter, in particular the oligodendrocytes and their precursors which are responsible for the synthesis of myelin. The three articles in this issue of our newsletter discuss this in more detail.
As you may have garnered, these therapeutic objectives are increasingly well defined but still require a great deal of analysis and a better understanding of the complex mechanisms responsible for the disease.
This is why fundamental and translational research remains so important, and can be conducted fully in our country only with the support, help and backing of all our donors.
Prof. Dr Christian Sindic, President