Multiple Sclerosis May Be Stopped Through Reduction of Myelin Immune Responses

First Posted: Jun 05, 2013 03:24 PM EDT

A new study shows promising results at treating the immune systems of those with multiple sclerosis by reducing the anti-myelin immune responses from 50 to 75 percent.

According to scientists from Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, University Hospital Zurich and University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf in Germany, study authors found that in seven relapsing-remitting and two secondary progressing MS patients, all of whom showed T-cell reactivity against at least one of the myelin peptides used in the trial, and who were off treatment for standard therapies, had a significant reduction in problems regarding the health issues. 

Results showed that the administration of antigen-coupled PBMS cells were feasible, had a favorable safety profile, and were tolerated by patients. The patients in the study who were receiving higher doses of peptide-coupled cells also experienced a decrease in antigen-specific T-cell responses following the acceptance regimen.

"The therapy stops autoimmune responses that are already activated and prevents the activation of new autoimmune cells," said Stephen Miller, Ph.D., via U.S. News and World Report, the Judy Gugenheim research professor of microbiology-immunology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. "Our approach leaves the function of the normal immune system intact. That's the holy grail." Most current MS treatments are immunosuppressive, making patients susceptible to a variety of infections.

The study notes that many of the patients who received high doses of the antigen-coupled blood cells never showed any new brain lesions. They also didn't show symptomatic relapses near the end of the study's six month follow-up period. The author's believe these results could suggest that this approach is safe and may be useful for preventing inflammation in MS patients for the future.

Scientists believe that attaching various antigens to the PBMCs could help treat other autoimmune and allergic diseases.

The study, "Antigen-Specific Tolerance by Autologous Myelin Peptide-Coupled Cells," was published in the June 5 issue of Science Translational Medicine.

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