In a recent study, conducted by a group of researchers from the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom, were searching for clues about the development of multiple sclerosis (MS) in a very unusual place: in sheep.
They got the idea for this study from a previous one, from 2013, in which the research team came to a discovery that people suffering from multiple sclerosis had increased levels of antibodies for a specific toxin known as the epsilon toxin (ETX).
The epsilon toxin is produced by the bacterium C.perfringens and is usually found in the intestines of livestock, most commonly sheep. Once the toxin enters the body, it triggers an immune response and the production of antibodies which are kept in reserve. When the toxin crosses the intestinal wall, it builds up in the brain and in the kidneys. In the brain, the toxin destroys the myelin that coats the nerves and the nerves that produce the myelin.
This condition in sheep is called enterotoxaemia, or more specific “Pulpy Kidney Disease”.
There are a lot of similarities between the symptoms of enterotoxaemia in sheep and multiple sclerosis in people. Researchers say that this is worth investigating further.
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