As outlined by first author Dr. David Kremer, the envelope (ENV) protein of the pathogenic human endogenous retrovirus type W (pHERV-W) was found to be a major contributor to nerve damage in MS.
In collaboration with research teams in the U.S. and Canada, the authors demonstrated that the ENV protein drives CNS resident microglial cells to contact and damage myelinated axons.
Alongside the scientific research into the damage mechanism, clinical developments aiming at neutralizing the harmful ENV protein in MS patients have also progressed. Two clinical studies conducted under the supervision of Professor Hartung have already successfully tested the ENV-neutralizing antibody temelimab. MRI scans of the participants treated in the study showed reduced damage to the nerve tissue.