ANCHOR LEAD: A NEW VACCINE MAY OFFER HOPE TO PEOPLE WITH MS, ELIZABETH TRACEY REPORTS
Multiple sclerosis, or MS, may soon be treated with a vaccine instead of medications that disable the immune system, if a new study reported recently in the New England Journal of Medicine can be expanded and repeated in more patients. Peter Calabresi, an MS expert at Johns Hopkins, says a vaccine approach would have many advantages.
CALABRESI: For years we’ve been trying to figure out what’s causing MS, and we know that there are some of the myelin proteins specifically that the immune system seems to be reacting to. The concept here is to take one of those myelin proteins and teach the immune system not to react to it. Then we wouldn’t have to wipe out the rest of the immune system, which is doing good things fighting off infections. One of the down sides of the present therapies that we have is they’re very nonspecific. By knocking down the bad cells that are attacking myelin in the brain we’re also impairing the immune system’s ability to fight off infection. :31
Calabresi says many more therapies directed at specific targets in MS are also under investigation. I’m Elizabeth Tracey reporting.