July 1/London/The Mirror -- Coffee drinkers may be protecting themselves against multiple sclerosis, a study suggests.

Scientists have found mice with an MS-like condition did not develop symptoms of the disease if they had the caffeine equivalent of eight cups of coffee a day.

The caffeine had blocked a pathway in their brain which prevented immune system cells from getting to the central nervous system which triggered the mouse equivalent of MS.

Dr. Linda Thompson at Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation said, "This is an exciting and unexpected finding and could be important for the study of MS and other diseases." She added more research was now needed.

From the July 7, 2008, Prepared Foods e-Flash