Researchers at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology have discovered that the body possesses a second set of beneficial antibodies that suppress the activity of the self destructive immunity. They were also able to boost the restraining activity of the beneficial antibodies.
November 10, 2003
Autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and Crohnís disease occur when the bodyís protective cells fail to distinguish healthy tissues from harmful pathogens and malignant cells. In response, the immune system attacks healthy tissues and organs.
Researchers at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology have discovered that the body possesses a second set of beneficial antibodies that suppress the activity of the self destructive immunity. Furthermore, using genetic manipulation, they were able to boost the restraining activity of the beneficial antibodies.
Their breakthrough findings, led by Dr. Nathan Karin of the Department of Immunology, will be published as the lead article in the November 2003 Immunology.
Based on these findings, Dr. Karin has developed a novel platform for the development of new therapies, and has submitted a patent application.
A properly working immune system is able to recognize an autoimmune attack. In response, it activates its beneficial antibodies which suppress the self destructive immunity. But in situations where the immune system is not working properly, the beneficial antibodies are not activated, allowing the self destructive antibodies to run their destructive course.
In trials on animals with induced rheumatoid arthritis (RA) the researchers were able to increase the number of beneficial antibodies, which resulted in a marked suppression of the autoimmune disease; eliminating the beneficial antibodies intensified the progress of the disease.
Most importantly, the researchers were then able to verify this process in a double-blind clinical study. The study consisted of 22 patients suffering from RA, a control group of 10 patients with osteoarthritis (not an autoimmune disease) and another control group of 12 healthy patients.
More than 70 percent of the RA patients were found to possess beneficial antibodies, which shows their systems are fighting the disease. By contrast, none of the healthy and none of the osteoarthritis patients possessed any beneficial antibodies, presumably because they have no need for them.
"These findings will likely lead to two complementary therapies: the first will be drugs consisting of novel antibodies that will assist the beneficial antibodies. The second will be vaccines to boost the autoimmune systemís beneficial antibodies and eventually replace the drugs," Dr. Karin said.
The Technion-Israel Institute of Technology is Israel's leading science
and technology university. It commands a worldwide reputation for its pioneering
work in computer science, biotechnology, water-resource management, materials
engineering, aerospace and medicine. The majority of the founders and managers
of Israel's high-tech companies are alumni. Based in New York City, the
American Technion Society is the leading American organization supporting
higher education in Israel, with more than 20,000 supporters and 17 offices
around the country.
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