Vaccine Against MS Being Developed at Baylor Institute for Immunology Research

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MS vaccine

MS vaccineA vaccination against multiple sclerosis is in progress in the laboratory of SangKon Oh, PhD, at the Baylor Institute for Immunology Research. Along with Gerard Zurawski, PhD, and Ted Phillips, MD, Dr. Oh is applying new insights from research in dendritic cell vaccines to a multiple sclerosis vaccine.

“Dr. Oh’s approach is a very unique effort that would harness one’s own immune system to suppress multiple sclerosis in an auto antigen-specific manner without disrupting other aspects of normal immunity,” stated Dr. Phillips in a news release provided by Baylor Scott & White Health. The team’s studies are unique in that they do not adversely affect  the immune system like traditional multiple sclerosis treatment does. Instead, the immune system is preserved.

According to a video from Baylor Health Care System, dendritic cell vaccines are engineered by growing a patient’s blood-derived stem cells in vitro to become dendritic cells. These differentiated dendritic cells are then sensitized with immunogenic proteins. After, the dendritic cells are injected into the patient and, similar to a vaccine, prime lymphocytes to attack the immunogenic proteins within the body.

Current work was motivated by the application of dendritic cells to fighting cancer, but a unique property of the cells was discovered that allows their influence on immune function. “We discovered that DC-ASGPR, one of the receptors expressed on human dendritic cells, has novel functions to promote antigen-specific regulatory T-cells that can efficiently suppress inflammatory responses,” said Dr. Oh. “This prompted us to test our discovery in autoimmune diseases where antigens are known.”

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From that time, the application of dendritic cell vaccines has grown extraordinarily. A phase 1 clinical trial may be in the works as soon as the year 2017. “We need new treatments that, while highly efficacious, also minimally adversely impact the individual’s immune system,” said Dr. Phillips.

The findings from this research can be further applied to other diseases such as type 1 diabetes. For now, Dr. Oh is focused on their radical new approach to attack multiple sclerosis in its early stages before the immune system suffers damage.

Watch the video here:

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Maureen Newman is a science columnist for BioNews Texas. She is currently a PhD student studying biomedical engineering at University of Rochester, working towards a career of research in biomaterials for drug delivery and regenerative medicine. She is an integral part of Dr. Danielle Benoit's laboratory, where she is investigating bone-homing therapeutics for osteoporosis treatment.
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  1. heather says:

    If we don’t know the cause or who will be affected by MS, how can you possibly know if the vaccine is effective?? Let’s work on a cure for people like my twin, mother and myself who all suffer from multiple sclerosis

  2. Hayley Cooper says:

    Yay!!! Finally, something that could possibly work for us forgotten ones with Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis……..Hopefully

  3. Jill Stevens says:

    I don’t understand this. I am participating in the study of an MS vaccine through the Opexa company. Is this the Opexa study? If it’s not, why are efforts being duplicated rather than 2 organizations working together?

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