A new experimental treatment for multiple sclerosis (MS) completely reverses the devastating autoimmune disorder in mice, and might work exactly the same way in humans, say researchers at the Jewish General Hospital Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research and McGill University in Montreal, according to a [removed]statement [/removed]released by McGill.

The new treatment, named GIFT15, puts MS into remission by suppressing the immune response, says the statement. It might also be effective against other autoimmune disorders such Crohn’s disease, lupus, and arthritis, the researchers said, and could theoretically also control immune responses in organ transplant patients. Moreover, unlike earlier immune-supppressing therapies that rely on chemical pharamaceuticals, this approach is a personalized form of cellular therapy that uses the body’s own cells to suppress immunity in a much more targeted way, says the statement.

GIFT15 was discovered by a team led by Jacques Galipeau, MD, of the JGH Lady Davis Institute and McGill’s faculty of Medicine. The results were published August 9 in the journal Nature Medicine.

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, says the statement.

This effect, said Galipeau in the statement, converts B-cells—a common form of white blood cell normally involved in immune response—into powerful immune-suppressive cells. Unlike their better-known cousins, T-cells, naturally-occurring immune-suppressing B-cells are almost unknown in nature and the notion of using them to control immunity is very new, according to the statement.

MS must be caught in its earliest stages, Galipeau cautioned, and clinical studies are needed to test the treatment’s efficacy and safety in humans, says the statement. No significant side-effects showed up in the mice, he said, and the treatment was fully effective with a single dose.

Galipeau said that it is easy to collect B-cells from a patient; it is just like donating blood. The researchers purify them in the lab, treat them with GIFT15 in a petri dish, and give them back to the patient. That’s what we did in mice, and that’s what we believe we could do in people, he added.  It would be very easy to take the next step, it’s just a question of finding the financial resources and partnerships to make this a reality, he said in the statement.

[Source: [removed]McGill University[/removed]]