Study Says TB Vaccine Can Prevent Multiple Sclerosis
A vaccine that is used to prevent tuberculosis (TB) can also be used to stave off multiple sclerosis (MS) in people displaying initial symptoms of the disease, claims a new study.
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A vaccine used to prevent TB can also be used to prevent MS, says a study published in the journal Neurology. A study was conducted on 73 subjects displaying the initial signs of MS that included sight problems, numbness or balancing problems. These were confirmed as signs of MS with the help of a MRI scan.
Nearly half of the subjects in this situation developed definite MS two years later and just 10 percent of them no more displayed MS signs.
Amongst the subjects, 33 of them were injected with a live vaccine called Bacille Calmetter-Guerin and the others were given a placebo. The vaccine Bacille Calmetter-Guerin is used in other parts of the world but not in the U.S.
After this, for nearly six months the subjects underwent brain scans once a month. For a year, they were even given an MS drug called interferon beta-1a. After five years the development of disease was analyzed.
The researchers noticed that after the first six months, those who received the vaccine experienced less brain lesions, signs of MS, compared to those who were assigned a placebo. Vaccinated subjects had three and placebo subjects had seven. On the completion of the study almost 58 percent of those who were vaccinated did not develop MS compared to 30 percent of those who were given the placebo.
"These results are promising, but much more research needs to be done to learn more about the safety and long-term effects of this live vaccine," said study author Giovanni Ristori, MD, PhD, of Sapienza University of Rome in Italy. "Doctors should not start using this vaccine to treat MS or clinically isolated syndrome.
None of the subjects experienced any side effects.
Dennis Bourdette, MD, of Oregon Health & Science University in Portland says, "The theory is that exposure to certain infections early in life might reduce the risk of these diseases by inducing the body to develop a protective immunity."