MS Vaccine Shows Promise

A type of new vaccine that has recently been used in mice shows some promise as a possible weapon against multiple sclerosis.

Researchers at the Heidelberg University Hospital along with the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg have found success in using a vaccine on mice containing specially treated autologous immune cells. The said vaccine helped prevent the development of encephalitis in mice, a condition known to have a similarity to multiple sclerosis in humans.

 The team of researchers headed by Professor Dr. Peter Terness initially worked with developing methods to prevent the rejection of donor organs during transplantation without impairing the immune system.

In the course of their study concerning organ rejection, the team was able to successfully treat immune cells called dendritic cells from a donor animal with a chemotherapeutic agent called mitomycin. The modified cells were then injected into the organ recipient prior to transplantation. The immune system did not attack the modified cells subsequently accepted the tissue of the donor animal.

Explains Dr. Terness, "The vaccine against multiple sclerosis works on the same principle. We have to teach the immune system not to fight the donor organ, or in this case its own nerve cells, as a foreign body."

Dr. Terness and his team, together with Dr. Thilo Oelert of the Department of Molecular Immunology at the German Cancer Research Center, used the same procedure in order to suppress the harmful immune response associated with multiple sclerosis. They first loaded immune cells from mice with a type of protein from the nervous system and then treated with mitomycin. The modified cells were then injected back into the mice.

The mice then were induced with experimental autoimmune encephalitis which is the animal equivalent of multiple sclerosis in humans. The team of researchers found out that the treated mice have become resistant to the disease.

According to Dr. Terness, "The treated cells express the target protein and simultaneously suppress the immune response. In this manner, the immune cells become accustomed to the protein and do not attack it later, even without the inhibitor".

The researchers are now planning to study whether the same method can also be effective to treat already existing multiple sclerosis in patient. They want to pursue animal experiments to see whether the said vaccine would also have a therapeutic effect and serve as a possible treatment for multiple sclerosis aside from its proven preventive effects.

Source: Experiment Yields Promising Results. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 9, 2008, from­ /releases/2008/12/081201105851.htm

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