BioNTech’s experimental non-inflammatory vaccine — designed to dampen the abnormal immune responses seen in multiple sclerosis (MS) against myelin — delayed the onset and lessened the severity of symptoms in a mouse model of MS, a study reports.
Importantly, treated mice showed no signs of overall immune suppression, suggesting that this type of therapy may overcome the downsides associated with current immunosuppressive therapies for MS.
These data support advancing this vaccine, and possibly bringing it into testing in patients.
The study, “A noninflammatory mRNA vaccine for treatment of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis,” was published in the journal Science.
MS is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system mistakenly attacks myelin, the fatty protective sheath that covers nerve fibers. As such, the main goal in treatment development for MS and other autoimmune conditions is to specifically suppress the cells that drive these immune attacks, without promoting overall immune suppression.
However, this has proven challenging. Current MS disease-modifying therapies promote, in one way or another, a general suppression of the immune system or of its key players, potentially impairing immune responses against real threats and increasing the risk of infections.
According to BioNTech, its experimental, non-inflammatory vaccine may revolutionize MS treatment by re-educating regulatory T-cells (Tregs) — a type of immune cell that typically dampens immune and inflammatory responses — to tolerate myelin-associated proteins and suppress immune reactions against them.
Notably, this vaccine differs from conventional vaccines in two main aspects. First, instead of stimulating a person’s immune system to recognize, memorize, and readily fight specific microbes or molecules, it promotes immune tolerance to a particular molecule.
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