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Caffeine could block multiple sclerosis

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Staff and Wire Reports

Can a cup of coffee help protect against not only sleepiness, but an autoimmune disease? Scientists at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation believe it can.

In a study from the OMRF, scientists found that mice immunized to develop an multiple sclerosis-like condition were able to slow the spread of the disease by drinking caffeine. The mice drank about six to eight cups of coffee a day before the caffeine became beneficial in this regard.

The disease is a chronic disorder of the central nervous system marked by weakness, numbness and a loss of muscle coordination.

Scientist Linda Thomspon said her study found caffeine helped block abnormal "T cells" from getting into the brain and attacking nerves and causing progression of the disease in mice.

"That caffeine seems to block the development of multiples sclerosis, at least the mouse version of it," said Stephen Prescott, president of OMRF.

Doctors at OMRF believe these findings could help them eventually target the path that MS takes in the human body.  

Thompson said the next step could be a study of people with MS to track their caffeine intake and its effects on the disease.

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