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Cambridge Scientist About to Cure Multiple Sclerosis

Travis Ketzak
By Travis Ketzak / June 14, 2017

Dr. Su Metcalfe, a Cambridge scientist, has put her passions for nano-medicine and immune cells to good use. She is currently on the verge of curing multiple sclerosis.

MS affects 2.3 million people around the world. It’s an auto-immune disease that attacks cells in the brain and spinal cord, causing everything from blindness to muscle weakness. Most people have relapsing or remitting cases that require constant therapy and medication, but there currently is no cure.

Su’s company, LIFNano, is planning to change that.

Su recalls her first breakthrough while working in Cambridge’s department of surgery. “I discovered a small binary switch, controlled by a LIF, which regulates inside the immune cell itself. LIF is able to control the cell to ensure it doesn’t attack your own body but then releases the attack when needed,” she said to Cambridge News.

Because the LIF can only survive outside of the cell for 20 minutes before being broken down by the body, though, Su needed a way to make it usable in therapy. That’s where nanotechnology comes in.

They began using nano-particles to attach the LIF to, so instead of being broken down in 20 minutes, it would dissolve in the body over five days. “They are made from the same material as soluble stitches, so they’re compatible with the body,” Su added.

Su is extremely hopeful of the future this breakthrough could be creating. “We’re not using any drugs, we’re simply switching on the body’s own systems of self-tolerance and repair. There aren’t any side effects because all we’re doing is tipping the balance. Auto-immunity happens when that balance has gone awry slightly, and we simply reset that. Once you’ve done that, it becomes self-sustaining and you don’t have to keep giving therapy, because the body has its balance back,” she explained.

The future of medicine is bright, and Su Metcalfe is at the helm.