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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Oklahoma researchers, including a high school student and a college student, are making strides in the treatment of a currently incurable diseases.

“It’s a tough one,” said Bob Axtell, PhD., who studies M.S. at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, where experts unexpectedly made a big find in the fight against the disease while studying brain cancer.

A study on brain cancer led to a potentially major finding in Multiple Sclerosis research.

Researchers at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation are hoping to improve the lives of those who battle this terrible disease.

“It was very unexpected for us to see that some of these genes that we’re looking at in our disease model were also associated with another disease model,” said Rheal Towner, PhD. 

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During his brain cancer research on mice, Towner found a marker called ELTD-1. It’s often associated with devastating brain tumors.

“When we looked at the genetic data, we found that there were a number of genes not only associated with glioblastoma but also associated with multiple sclerosis,” Towner said. 

Towner’s first call was Dr. Axtell, who says this discovery may play an important role in helping researchers uncover better therapies for patients with M.S.

Researchers tell us they plan to investigate how blocking ELTD-1 affects the progression of the disease.

“Something that’s going to slow down the inflammation and you want something that may help in repairing the damage that the inflammation has already caused,” said Axtell. 

A high school student and college student in the OMRF’s Fleming Scholar program had a hand in the research trials.

Towner and Axtell hope this inspires future generations of scientists.

“You can be a young person who really doesn’t know much about science but really contribute to something important,” Axtell said. 

The OMRF hopes to eventually get FDA approval for investigational new drugs.

Then they can start a clinical trial on patients.