Scientists have found that the human body can actually make its own vaccine, which empowers the immune system to protect against chronic inflammatory diseases.
Researchers at the Biotech Research and Innovation Centre (BRIC) at the University of Copenhagen have discovered a protein normally found in the body that can act to prevent chronic tissue inflammation.
When administered in the form of a therapeutic vaccine it is able to effectively prevent and treat a number of different inflammatory disease models for multiple sclerosis (MS), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), skin hypersensitivity and allergic asthma (AA).
Principal Investigator Shohreh Issazadeh-Navikas, group leader for Neuroinflammation Unit at BRIC, led the study.
"The implications of the findings are large as they shed light on an important way that the body combats inflammation and autoimmunity. Moreover, they establish a therapeutic approach for using the newly discovered protein as a treatment for multiple conditions," said Shohreh Issazadeh-Navikas.
The vaccine discovered by the researchers boosts special cells of the immune system, called NKT cells.
NKT cells are a type of T cell that exerts profound and diverse regulatory effects in disease, from autoimmunity to responses to pathogens and cancer.
However, Professor Issazadeh-Navikas' group was able to show for the first time the ability of a self peptide to activate NKT cells to suppress many tissue-specific inflammatory conditions including experimental autoimmune diseases.
Professor Issazadeh-Navikas highlighted, "Our data offer a novel perspective on the physiological role of these cells in maintenance of tissue homeostasis and reduction of inflammation."
The study is published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.