Scientists Reverse Multiple Sclerosis in Mice

Experimental treatment suppresses immune cells, forcing remission, study says

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WEDNESDAY, Aug. 12, 2009 (HealthDay News) -- An experimental treatment that suppresses the immune system to put multiple sclerosis into remission completely reversed the disease in mice, Canadian scientists say.

In MS, the immune system attacks the central nervous system. The new treatment, called GIFT15, is composed of two proteins, GSM-CSF and interleukin-15, that are fused in the lab. Normally, the individual proteins act to stimulate the immune system, but when they're stuck together, the proteins suppress immune response, the researchers explained.

They do this by converting B-cells -- a type of white blood cell normally involved in immune response -- into immune suppressive cells.

"GIFT15 can take your normal, run-of-the-mill B-cells and convert them ... into these super-powerful B-regulatory cells," study team leader Dr. Jacques Galipeau, of the Jewish General Hospital Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research and McGill University in Montreal, said in a university news release.

He and his colleagues took normal B-cells from mice and sprinkled GIFT15 on the B-cells. "And when we gave them back intravenously to mice ill with multiple sclerosis, the disease went away," Galipeau said.

The treatment was fully effective with a single dose, and no significant side effects were seen in the mice, the researchers reported.

Their findings were published online Aug. 9 in Nature Medicine.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more about multiple sclerosis.

SOURCE: McGill University, news release, Aug. 11, 2009

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