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Calming Factor: DNA vaccine for MS passes initial test

An experimental vaccine for people who have multiple sclerosis has proved safe, clearing a necessary first hurdle toward regulatory approval. The results of this initial trial also suggest that the vaccine can indeed quell the self-destructive immune reaction that many scientists believe causes the disease.

Despite this early promise, the researchers caution that the findings are based on data gathered from a small group over a limited time.

The researchers used a technique called DNA vaccination, which introduces a gene into the body to elicit an immune response. But rather than rile the immune system against a foreign foe, the new multiple sclerosis (MS) vaccine seeks to induce immune tolerance of myelin basic protein, a component of myelin. A fatty material that protects nerves, myelin is degraded in MS, robbing patients of muscle control.

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