Meet the Cambridge Scientist on Verge of Curing Multiple Sclerosis


What is MS?

MS, short for multiple sclerosis, is a human disease that damages the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. It’s a debilitating disease that harms the nervous system in many ways, causing severe physical and mental problems over time.

More specifically, the disease targets a special type of tissue in the central nervous system known as myelin. It’s an insulating layer which covers our nerves and keeps them safe. Since it is destroyed by multiple sclerosis, our nerve cells are seriously affected by the neurodegenerative disease and permanently damaged. There’s still no cure for MS and science isn’t sure if it will ever be one.

That may change soon, though, thanks to the efforts of Dr. Su Metcalfe.

A Potential Cure for MS?

Dr. Metcalfe and her company LIFNano are on the verge of a potentially life-changing cure for multiple sclerosis. Dr. Su’s research identified a tiny “switch” in our immune cells controlled by the Leukemia Inhibitory Factor (LIF) which regulates how the cells work. LIF keeps the cell from losing control and attacking our other cells except in the case that’s required. Apart from this, LIF also keeps our brain and spinal cord cells healthy.

The factor plays a role in tissue growth and repair and is a kind of, as Dr. Metcalfe says, “natural regenerative remedy”. Her pioneering research may finally put an end to all neurodegenerative diseases, MS included. Of course, it needs to be put to the test in human trials before we can conclude anything, but for now, the signs are certainly positive.

The biggest problem is that LIF has a life cycle of 20 minutes. That’s too short for the factor to be injected (in the form of stem cells) into your body and to begin its regenerative function. Dr. Metcalfe has found a solution to that – nanoparticle technology.

Nanoparticles, as you probably already know, may be the future of medicine. They represent a non-invasive way of delivering life-changing medication directly into our cells. Thanks to nanoparticles, LIF can be administered to MS patients over a period of 5 days, forming a protective environment where enzymes can’t break it down. In this way, the factor can start the healing process and target specific parts of the brain which will result in the treatment of any neurodegenerative disease.

Nanomedicine – Welcome to the Future

Dr. Metcalfe’s research is the latest in a long line which has proven that nanoparticles are the medicine of the future. Instead of delivering drugs while avoiding side-effects, Dr. Metcalfe says that tapping into biologics with nanoparticles is the way we could cure so many diseases.

In her own words, nanoparticles can switch the body’s self-tolerance systems on and help the body repair itself. When this balance is destroyed, auto-immune diseases take place. Dr. Metcalfe’s research helps the body reset itself in a way, perishing any auto-immune disease in the process.

LIFNano’s research has received significant backing and funding from the UK Government’s Innovate agency and drug firm Merck as well. Experts hope that the research will be expanded further and blossom into a full-fledged cure for MS.

Dr. Metcalfe has always been focused on immune cells. She believes they’re the most powerful cells in our bodies and also believes we already have the means of switching certain features in them that could help defeat serious diseases and conditions.

Her pioneering research has shown that we can “reset” the body to fight MS – thanks to nanoparticles and LIF, we could finally defeat one of the worst diseases.

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