A promising new vaccine is being prepared by the University of Chicago's Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering where it will work in reverse and aims to treat autoimmune diseases.
An announcement from the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering of the University of Chicago, reports that a promising new type of vaccine is being tested after it "has shown in a laboratory setting that it can completely reverse autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis and type 1 diabetes, all without shutting down the rest of the immune system ».
A typical vaccine teaches the human immune system to recognize a virus or bacteria as an enemy and attack it. The new "reverse vaccine" does exactly the opposite: it removes from the immune system the memory that a particular molecule is an enemy.
While such erasure of immune memory would be undesirable for infectious diseases, it can stop autoimmune reactions such as those seen in multiple sclerosis, type I diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis, where the immune system attacks a person's healthy tissues.
The reverse vaccine, which described in Nature Biomedical Engineering, takes advantage of the way the liver naturally tags molecules from dividing cells with "do not attack" flags to prevent autoimmune reactions to cells dying by natural processes.
Researchers at the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering attached an antigen, a molecule that is attacked by the immune system, to a molecule that resembles a fragment of an aged cell that the liver would recognize as friend rather than foe. The team showed how the vaccine could successfully stop the autoimmune reaction associated with a disease similar to multiple sclerosis.
Jeffrey Hubbell [lead author of the new paper] and his colleagues knew that the body has a mechanism to ensure that immune reactions do not occur in response to every damaged cell in the body, a phenomenon known as peripheral immune tolerance, which is carried out in the liver.
They discovered in recent years that tagging molecules with a sugar known as N-acetylgalactosamine (pGal) could mimic this process, sending the molecules to the liver where tolerance to them develops. "The idea is that we can attach any molecule we want to pGal and that will teach the immune system to tolerate it," Hubbell explained. "Instead of raising immunity like with a vaccine, we can lower it in a very specific way with a reverse vaccine."
In the new study, the researchers focused on a disease similar to multiple sclerosis in which the immune system attacks the myelin, leading to weakness and numbness, vision loss, and eventually mobility problems and paralysis. The team linked myelin proteins to pGal and tested the effect of the new reverse vaccine. The immune system, they found, stopped attacking the myelin, allowing the nerves to function properly again and reversing disease symptoms in the animals. In a series of other experiments, the scientists showed that the same approach worked to minimize other immune responses.
Initial trials of a treatment with modified glycosylation, an antigen based on this preclinical work, have already been performed in people with celiac disease, an autoimmune disease associated with eating wheat, barley and rye, and trials are underway for it in multiple sclerosis. joke.
Those trials are being conducted by pharmaceutical company Anokion SA, which helped fund the new work. However, Hubbell states that "there are no clinically approved reverse vaccines yet, but we are incredibly excited to advance this technology."