Researchers develop novel approach to stopping immune attacks in mice with MS-like disease
November 11, 2020
Multiple sclerosis involves misguided attacks by the immune system on the body’s own nerve fiber-insulating myelin. The ability to turn off the specific immune cells attacking in MS could be an effective way to stop MS in its tracks, but this approach is hindered by not knowing the specific myelin “antigens,” or targets of this misguided immune attack.
Taking a novel approach, a team at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia took microsopic particles, called extracellular vesicles, from myelin-making cells and injected them into mice with MS-like disease. Because the vesicles contained multiple myelin antigens, the team hoped that this might in a sense inoculate the mice to induce immune tolerance to myelin, and reduce disease activity, overcoming the need for identifying the precise antigen or target.
They found that when the vesicles were injected before disease onset, symptoms were prevented. When injected afterward, symptoms were reduced. The approach affected the attacking immune cells but did not dampen protective aspects of the immune system. This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health.
The team is seeking to develop this approach with further research, to determine whether it would be safe and effective for treating people with MS.
Read more from Thomas Jefferson University
Read a scientific summary of the paper in Science Translational Medicine
Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable disease of the central nervous system. Currently there is no cure. Symptoms vary from person to person and may include disabling fatigue, mobility challenges, cognitive changes, and vision issues. An estimated 1 million people live with MS in the United States. Early diagnosis and treatment are critical to minimize disability. Significant progress is being made to achieve a world free of MS.