Can the immune system repair brain damage in multiple sclerosis?
September 2004, we take a look at Dr. Alasdair coles study of the immune system and its role in MS repair.
We have treated a small group of people with aggressive relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis using an experimental drug called Campath-1H. This drug deliberately damages the immune system and is good at stopping further relapses. A large clinical trial is currently comparing the effectiveness and side-effects of Campath-1H and interferon-beta.
We imagined that Campath-1H treatment of multiple sclerosis would prevent further deterioration but would do nothing for damage already acquired. Quite unexpectedly however, most patients treated using a single dose of Campath-1H show a steady improvement in their disability over the next 12-24 months. This was encouraging but difficult to understand. The brain was being encouraged to repair itself; but why?
This project tests one possible explanation: that cells of the immune system are altered after Campath-1H treatment and they travel to the brain to release factors that encourage repair of nerve fibres. This touches on a fundamental question in multiple sclerosis research: does the process of inflammation, which is generally regarded as damaging, also actually encourage survival of nerve fibres?
Our approach is to look at the immune cells in the blood of people before and after Campath-1H. We put them in cultures in the laboratory and see if they release substances known to promote brain repair. So far we have had mixed results from these experiments. Secondly we take the soup released by these immune cells and pour it onto nerve cells growing in culture and watch what happens. Interestingly, after Campath-1H the immune cells do seem to encourage nerve cells to grow. Now we have to find out how!
What they dont say here and should do IMHO is that two deaths have been attributed to the use of Campath (although not in PwMS).MS Society wrote:We have treated a small group of people with aggressive relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis using an experimental drug called Campath-1H. This drug deliberately damages the immune system and is good at stopping further relapses.
I am what I am