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MS and monoclonals.

MS and monoclonals

Scientists have completed preliminary studies of an experimental, immune-suppressing therapy they hope may someday assist victims of autoimmune disorders. The researchers injected mouse monoclonal antibodies -- highly purified, identical antibodies mass-produced inside engineered mouse cells -- into eight patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). The antibodies interfered with the activity of two specific types of white blood cells that may play a role in the disease.

Studies suggest MS is an autoimmune disease in which certain of a person's own T-lymphocytes attack and damage the protective coating of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. but immune-suppressing drugs currently used to treat the disease indiscriminately affect "innocent" T-cells and other useful white blood cells called B-lymphocytes.

The new approach, by David A. Hafler and Howard L. Weiner at Brigham and Women's Hospital and their colleagues at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, seeks to attack T-4 and T-11 lymphocytes without damaging other immune-system cells.

The treatment produced no major side effects, the scientists report in the July 1 JOURNAL OF IMMUNOLOGY. It remains to be shown, however, that monoclonal antibodies can help MS sufferers. The disease runs an unpredictable course and has so far proved resistant to cure (SN: 8/22/87, p.120; 10/10/87, p.234).

Byron H. Waksman, vice president of research and medical programs at the New York City-based National Multiple Sclerosis Society, says he regards the results as "encouraging" although this specific approach "won't work in a durable way" because patients produce antibodies against the mouse antibody, thus wiping out further response to the treatment.

But evidence that the mouse antibodies elicited a genuine, specific suppressive effect, says Waksman, suggests that similar antibodies mass-produced in human cells might prove effective without prompting an anti-antibody response.
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Publication:Science News
Date:Jul 16, 1988
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