Monday, August 17, 2009

A Possible Cure For Multiple Sclerosis?

I thought it was pretty cool that researchers at McGill University and the Jewish General Hospital Lady Institute for Medical Research in Montreal have developed a new experimental treatment for multiple sclerosis (MS) called GIFT15 that completely reverses it in mice. Even better, the researchers think the treatment should work in humans too. However, the MS has to be caught in its earliest stages for the treatment to be effective.

GIFT15 works by suppressing the body's immune response so that it will stop attacking the central nervous system. Because of the way it works, the treatment could also potentially be used to treat other autoimmune diseases, such as Crohn's, lupus, and arthritis, as well as to control immune responses in organ transplant patients. GIFT15 -- a new protein hormone that consists of a combination of GSM-CSF and interleukin-15 proteins that are fused together in the lab -- converts B-cells (white blood cells normally involved in immune response) into powerful immune-suppressive B-regulatory cells. The researchers took normal B-cells from the mice, added GIFT15 to transform the B-cells, and then gave the converted B-cells back to the mice intravenously. After one dose, the mice recovered from their MS-like illness with no significant side effects.

The research has been published in the journal Nature Medicine.

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