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Thursday, January 9, 2014
Multiple Sclerosis Cure? Study Shows TB Vaccine Could Stem Multiple Sclerosis Development In Patients
Jan 8 2014
There may be new hope that an unlikely vaccine could someday aid in the development of a Multiple Sclerosis Cure. Researchers have discovered that a tuberculosis (TB) vaccine may help prevent the development of multiple sclerosis (MS).
TB is a disease of the respiratory system and MS is a disease of the central nervous system. Italian researchers injected a TB vaccine in individuals who had a first episode of MS symptoms that indicated they might develop MS. They observed that the TB vaccine lowered the odds of developing MS.
According to Dr. Giovanni Ristori, of the Center for Experimental Neurological Therapies at Sant’Andrea Hospital in Rome and study lead, “It is possible that a safe, handy and cheap approach will be available immediately following the first episode of symptoms suggesting MS”. However, the researchers cautioned that more research is required before the TB vaccine can be used against MS.
In MS, the immune system attacks healthy cells of the central nervous system including the brain and spinal cord. One of the first symptoms of MS is referred to as “clinically isolated syndrome.” These symptoms include numbness, tingling sensations and problems with vision, hearing and balance. Ristori notes that around half of the patients who experience clinically isolated syndrome develop MS within two years.
The current study included 73 patients who had clinically isolated syndrome. Thirty-three of these patients received the TB vaccine and 40 were given a placebo (dummy injection). The TB vaccine they used was the Bacille Calmette-Guerin vaccine. The same vaccine is also being studied as a therapy for diabetes type 1.
MRI scans were done on the brains of participants on a monthly basis for the first six months. Researchers were looking for lesions associated with MS. For the next year, participants received interferon beta-1a. Beyond this, patients received therapies recommended by their own neurologist. Patients were reexamined after 5 years to see if they had developed MS.