Promising animal test results that could lead to a vaccine to fight rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis (MS) and other autoimmune diseases were announced by researchers at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. The vaccine reversed an arthritic-like disease in rats by mobilizing part of the immune system to protect joints under attack by other immune cells. The work was reported in two related papers in the September Journal of Immunology .
Autoimmune diseases, in which the immune system attacks the bodys own tissues, are among the most widespread of serious chronic diseases. In arthritis, immune cells attack the joints, while in MS, they attack the myelin sheaths of nerve cells.
Current treatments involve either steroids, which fight inflammation caused by the immune system attacks, or immuno-suppressant drugs, which depress immune system function generally. Both these approaches create serious side effects and can only slow, but not stop, the progress of the diseases. They are also effective mostly at very early stages of each disease.
Martha Molnar | EurekAlert!
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