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Naked DNA Vaccination May Conquer Arthritis and Multiple Sclerosis ,,

A novel modification of a new technology born of genetic engineering, and known as naked DNA vaccination, holds the potential of overcoming autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.

The vaccine is currently being successfully tested in animals. In multiple sclerosis (MS) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA), the body essentially attacks itself, causing inflammation. In MS, the myelin sheath of nerves falls victim, while in RA, it is the joints and cartilage that are attacked. The damage is done by small proinflammatory peptides called proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines. One way these diseases could be controlled is by immunizing patients with neutralizing antibodies directed against one or more of the proinflammatory peptides. Recent clinical trials have proven successful at inhibiting rheumatoid arthritis by using antibodies to counter inflammation-causing cytokines. There are, however, two key problems associated with using the neutralizing antibodies tested in the trials. First, they require frequent administration. Additionally, the body's immune system eventually recognizes the antibodies as foreign and generates an immune response that can exacerbate the disease. Naked DNA vaccination technology may counter these undesirable effects. This consists of introducing engineered genes based on the culprit peptides into the body. When the patient's immune system sees these genes as outside invaders, it produces its own neutralizing antibodies capable of restraining the disease. Essentially, the process involves teaching the immune system how to correct its own mistakes, fooling the natural immune system into fighting itself by neutralizing the excessive cytokines and chemokines it is producing.

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