Biotech Company Creates Vaccine That Could ‘Revolutionize’ Multiple Sclerosis Treatment

Same company worked to help create Pfizer vaccine for COVID
woman in wheelchair
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In a promising development, the same scientists who created the BioNTech coronavirus vaccine in coordination with Pfizer have created another vaccine that could “revolutionize” multiple sclerosis treatment by “re-educating” regulatory T-cells to  “not only prevent multiple sclerosis, but even reverse some of the effects of the disease,” according to Multiple Sclerosis News Today.

“BioNTech’s experimental non-inflammatory vaccine — designed to dampen the abnormal immune responses seen in multiple sclerosis (MS) against myelin — delayed the onset and lessened the severity of symptoms in a mouse model of MS, a study reports,” the outlet reports, citing a new study published by the journal Science. “Importantly, treated mice showed no signs of overall immune suppression, suggesting that this type of therapy may overcome the downsides associated with current immunosuppressive therapies for MS.”

As explained by Angus Liu in a report for Fierce Biotech, “Existing treatments work by systemically suppressing the immune system. That can control MS, but it also leaves patients vulnerable to infections.” The new vaccine may avoid this negative side effect.

The Mayo Clinic has written of multiple sclerosis:

In MS, the immune system attacks the protective sheath (myelin) that covers nerve fibers and causes communication problems between your brain and the rest of your body. Eventually, the disease can cause permanent damage or deterioration of the nerves.… There is no cure for multiple sclerosis. Treatment typically focuses on speeding recovery from attacks, slowing the progression of the disease and managing MS symptoms. Some people have such mild symptoms that no treatment is necessary.

Fierce Biotech reported that the scientific team, led by Dr. Ugur Sahin and his wife, Dr. Özlem Türeci, along with colleagues at BioNTech and scientists at the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz, “came up with an mRNA candidate that wrapped the genetic information coding for MS-causing self-antigens in fatty substances. A similar lipid nanoparticle is used in Comirnaty to protect the COVID-19 mRNA material until it reaches target cells, where it produces the antigen protein. In mice with autoimmune encephalomyelitis, a model for human MS, the team found that the vaccine was processed by lymphoid antigen-presenting cells without triggering a systemic inflammatory immune response, even when delivered at very high antigen concentrations. It did not impair the animals’ ability to launch a protective immune response.”

The study found that the vaccine blocked all of the clinical signs of MS in the mice to which it was administered. “In mice that started on the mRNA vaccine when small signs of disease such as paralysis of the tail were noted, the treatment prevented further disease progression and restored motor functions, the team reported,” Fierce Biotech notes.

In early December, MarketWatch reported of BioNTech and Pfizer:

BioNTech has had a relationship with Pfizer since 2018, when the U.S. drug giant agreed to pay the German company up to $425 million in an alliance to develop mRNA-based vaccines for the prevention of influenza. In March of this year, the month when the World Health Organization labeled the novel-coronavirus outbreak a pandemic, Pfizer and BioNTech announced plans to jointly develop a COVID-19 vaccine.

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