Early Findings Promising for Multiple Sclerosis Vaccine

A dendritic cell vaccine for MS attacks the condition early, while preserving the immune system.

A dendritic cell vaccine for MS attacks the condition early, while preserving the immune system.

A dendritic cell vaccine to treat and prevent multiple sclerosis (MS) has shown promise in preliminary studies.

Investigators from the Baylor Institute for Immunology Research began evaluating the vaccine 3 years ago, and said that the study would mark an important first if future research supports the early results.

The study draws on previous research on dendritic cells for cancer and infectious diseases. Those studies allowed scientists to identify cell properties that could influence the immune system.

“We discovered that DC-ASGPR, 1 of the receptors expressed on human dendritic cells, has novel functions to promote antigen-specific regulatory T cells that can efficiently suppress inflammatory responses,” principal investigator SangKon Oh, PhDsaid in a press release. “This prompted us to test our discovery in autoimmune diseases where antigens are known.”

The vaccine takes a different approach from traditional MS treatments, which may trigger immune system-related side effects. The vaccine did not appear to cause those side effects during preliminary research.

“Dr. Oh’s approach is a very unique effort that would harness one’s own immune system to suppress MS in an auto antigen-specific manner without disrupting other aspects of normal immunity,” Ted Phillips, MD, PhD, said in a press release.

Although researchers regard the results with tempered optimism, they hope the study can enter a Phase I clinical trial within the next 3 years. They also intend to apply the findings to other diseases, including type 1 diabetes.