Researchers at the University of Zurich have been working on a gut-based solution for several years, and they believe they are close to making their therapy available to MS sufferers.
"We believe that the immune cells are activated in the intestine and then migrate to the brain, where they cause an inflammatory cascade," said one of the researchers, Mireia Sospedra.
In the MS patient, T-cells—the white blood cells that help govern the immune system—react to a protein called GDP-L-fucose synthase that's found in bacteria in the gut.
In their therapy, the researchers take blood from the MS patient, and then add protein fragments to the surface of the red blood cells in order to 're-educate' the immune system to tolerate brain tissue, instead of attacking it.
The only treatments for MS currently available shut down the whole immune system, but this can have serious consequences.
(Source: Science Translational Medicine, 2018; 10(462): eaat4301)