Michoacán.- Current treatments for multiple sclerosis can cause immune suppression and side effects, such as an increased risk of infections. A new study in mice shows how a messenger RNA vaccine, such as those used for covid-19, delayed onset and reduced the severity of the disease.
Multiple sclerosis is a disease that affects the central nervous system. In it, the immune system attacks the protective sheath (myelin) that coats nerve fibers and causes communication problems between the brain and the rest of the body. Over time, pathology can cause permanent nerve deterioration or damage.
Although some treatments help speed up attack recovery, change the course of the disease, and control symptoms, they can also cause immune suppression and numerous side effects, such as an increased risk of infections.
In their rodent experiments, scientists found that the vaccine was able to prevent symptomatic disease or, in those with early-stage pathology, reduced its progression and restored motor functions
You may be interested: AMLO ends conference with image of Benito de Don Gato and his gang and becomes trending (Video)
In recent decades, experts have studied several approaches, including autoimmune antigen administration using DNA, synthetic peptides, recombinant proteins, coated nanoparticles, or immunomodulatory cell therapies. However, the results have been negative or inconclusive in humans.
Researchers at BioNTech and Johannes Gutenberg University (Mainz, Germany) have now designed a messenger RNA vaccine (mRNA) – such as those created by the German company for covid-19 – that delays initiation and reduces the severity of a disease similar to multiple sclerosis in mice.
The preclinical results of the vaccine show that it restores the body’s tolerance to its own proteins, suppressing the characteristic immune hyperreactivity that the disease possesses and that it is the main objective of therapies against autoimmune pathologies. For authors, this is an improvement over other treatment methods.
As explained in the paper published in the journal Science, this strategy consists of a lipid nanoparticle, packaged with modified and purified mRNA, that encodes disease-related auto-antigens. These are usually the triggers for the autoimmune response.
A pathway for personalized treatments
In their rodent experiments with autoimmune encephalomyelitis (an animal model for human multiple sclerosis), scientists discovered that the vaccine was able to prevent symptomatic disease or, in mice with early-stage pathology, decreased its progression and restored motor functions.
Thus, the infiltration of pro-inflammatory T (Teff) effector cells into the brain and spinal cord and demyelination of the brain and spinal cord were significantly reduced. These effects were achieved by developing disease-suppressing regulatory T cells (Treg) targeting the antigen encoded by the mRNA vaccine.
The authors underscore the potential of mRNA treatments to address very complex and rare autoimmune diseases
In addition, the candidate for the preclinical vaccine did not suppress functional immune responses against other antigens not related to myelin (e.g. those of the flu vaccine), solving one of the main problems of this type of treatment: induction of non-specific immune suppression.
The authors underscore the potential of mRNA treatments to address very complex and rare autoimmune diseases. «The ability to rapidly produce mRNA vaccines containing an individual’s own antigen code could be a way to create personalized therapies in autoimmune pathologies,» they conclude.