This effect, explained Galipeau, 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.
"GIFT15 can take your normal, run-of-the-mill B-cells and convert them -- in a Superman or Jekyll -Hyde sort of way -- into these super-powerful B-regulatory cells," Galipeau explained. "We can do that in a petri dish. We took normal B-cells from mice, and sprinkled GIFT15 on them, which led to this Jekyll and Hyde effect.
"And when we gave them back intravenously to mice ill with multiple sclerosis, the disease went away."
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. No significant side-effects showed up in the mice, he said, and the treatment was fully effective with a single dose.
"It's easy to collect B-cells from a patient," he added. "It's just like donating blood. We 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. 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."
|Contact: Mark Shainblum|