Florian Ingelfinger, an immunologist at the University of Zürich, has won the Pfizer Research Award. Ingelfinger was studying Multiple Sclerosis (MS), an autoimmunity disease causing inflammatory reactions in the central nervous system and the spinal cord. It is the most common cause of neurological impairments in young adults.
In his study, Ingelfinger and his team examined 61 identical twins. One of the two twins was always affected by MS, whereas the other was healthy. The research implies that genetics are not the main trigger of MS. More important are environmental influences that disturb the communication between the white blood cells in the patients. Thus, T-cells (one type of white blood cell) are more likely to enter the central nervous system and cause damage. To put it into the words of Burkhard Becher, Ingelfinger’s supervisor: “We may have discovered the cellular big bang of MS here – precursor cells that give rise to disease-causing T-cells”.
By: Florian Ingelfinger, Institute of Experimental Immunology, University of Zurich
Reference: Florian Ingelfinger, Lisa Gerdes et al. Twin study reveals non-heritable immune perturbations in multiple sclerosis. Nature. 16 February 2022. DOI: 10.1038/s41586-022-04419-4
Image: Andrew Martin, Pixabay