Multiple Sclerosis Now Reversible In Mice

by Tanya Thomas on Aug 16 2009 11:56 AM

What may be considered as a major breakthrough in the study of MS, researchers have successfully reversed multiple sclerosis in mice with the help of a new experimental treatment.

According to researchers at the Jewish General Hospital Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research and McGill University in Montreal, the new treatment known as GIFT15 has reversed the devastating autoimmune disorder in mice, and might work exactly the same way in humans.

It puts MS into remission by suppressing the immune response.

The research team believes that the treatment can also help treat autoimmune disorders like Crohn's disease, lupus and arthritis.

It is the personalized form of cellular therapy which utilizes the body's own cells to suppress immunity in a much more targeted way.

GIFT15 is composed of two proteins, GSM-CSF and interleukin-15, fused together artificially in the lab. Under normal circumstances, the individual proteins usually act to stimulate the immune system, but in their fused form, the equation reverses itself.

"You know those mythical animals that have the head of an eagle and the body of a lion? They're called chimeras. In a lyrical sense, that's what we've created," Nature quoted Dr. Jacques Galipeau of the JGH Lady Davis Institute and McGill's Faculty of Medicine as saying.

"GIFT15 is a new protein hormone composed of two distinct proteins, and when they're stuck together they lead to a completely unexpected biological effect," he added.

This biological effect converts B-cells- a common form of white blood cell normally involved in immune response - into powerful immune-suppressive cells.

"GIFT15 can take your normal, run-of-the-mill B-cells and convert them - in a Superman or Jekyll -Hyde sort of way -into these super-powerful B-regulatory cells," said Galipeau.

"We can do that in a petri dish. We took normal B-cells from mice, and sprinkled GIFT15 on them, which led to this Jekyll and Hyde effect.

"And when we gave them back intravenously to mice ill with multiple sclerosis, the disease went away," he added.

The study appears in journal Nature Medicine.