Medicine: plant active ingredient from violets helps against MS

Medicine: plant active ingredient from violets helps against MS

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Violet extract works against multiple sclerosis
A plant active ingredient that can be isolated from coffee, pumpkin and, above all, violet plants, has a surprisingly clear effect against multiple sclerosis. Scientists at Freiburg University Hospital have already successfully tested the so-called cyclotide in mice and a clinical study in humans is currently in preparation.

Multiple sclerosis is a relatively common disease of the nervous system that has not yet been curable. "The pop singer Howard Carpendale has the disease and also the Rhineland-Palatinate Prime Minister Malu Dreyer: Around 130,000 people in Germany suffer from multiple sclerosis or MS for short," according to the Freiburg University Hospital. The chronic inflammatory autoimmune disease of the central nervous system is characterized by the destruction of the insulating layer of the nerve cells.

Illness with many faces
A certain type of white blood cell, the T cells, falsely attacks the insulating layer of the nerve cells in MS patients. This can lead to different complaints. Often, “the disease is initially noticeable with tactile and visual disturbances,” explains Dr. Carsten Gründemann, head biologist of the naturopathy group at the Institute for Environmental Medicine and Hospital Hygiene at the University Hospital Freiburg. In the later course of the disease, gait disorders due to convulsions or weakness were also to be found. "Depending on which area of ​​the nervous system is particularly affected, different symptoms become noticeable," the university hospital said. From this also follows the term "illness with many faces".

So far very limited therapeutic options
The progressive deterioration of the condition of those affected is typical for the course of MS. Although there are some therapeutic options here to delay the course of the disease and alleviate the symptoms, those affected have not yet had a chance of being cured. With their current research, the researchers at the University Hospital of Freiburg have raised hopes that the course of the disease may be stopped in the future with the help of the plant active ingredient cyclotide.

Excessive immune reactions are stopped
Cyclotide is a ring-shaped active ingredient that can be obtained from plants such as coffee, pumpkin and violet plants. "In traditional medicine, appropriate plant extracts have always been used for joint complaints," reports Dr. Gründemann. However, it has long been unknown how the extracts work. Just a few years ago, Gründemann, together with scientists led by Dr. Christian Gruber from the MedUni Vienna demonstrated that cyclotide stops the formation of T cells and thus stops excessive immune reactions.

Successful first attempts
In further studies, the scientists tested the influence of the molecule on the immune system. They reconstructed the molecule in the laboratory and checked its effects. The researchers found that natural cyclotide alone is effective when used locally, but is far from strong enough for the treatment of multiple sclerosis. "That's why we changed the molecule a bit in the laboratory and was able to significantly increase its potency," explains Dr. The results of the tests on cell cultures were very convincing, and so the team of researchers at the Freiburg University Hospital, together with colleagues from Austria, Australia and Sweden, examined whether the active ingredient also achieved the desired success in mice with MS.

Clinical trials in humans required
In the experiments on mice, the symptoms improved significantly after just one dose of the active ingredient, reports Dr. In addition, the effect was also detectable at a very early stage of the disease, when the first neurological disorders appeared. This suggests that the time intervals between the relapses can be increased considerably or that the disease can even be stopped completely. The effects and safety of cyclotide in humans must now be examined in further studies. The Freiburg and Austrian scientists have already patented their application together and have already granted a license for the further development of the drug to the Swedish company Cyxone. "The first examinations on patients are planned in about two years"; reports the University Clinic Freiburg. (fp)

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