September 22, 2003
Bacterial Protein Holds Hope As Vaccine Against Auto-Immune Disorders

Dr. Neil A. Williams of the University of Bristol in Britain and colleagues are working on a vaccine made from a protein found in an E. coli bacteria strain that trains the immune system to stop auto-immune responses.

In a study of a strain of mice that naturally develop diabetes, the vaccine, which is being developed with the backing of British biotech company Hunter-Fleming Ltd, reduced the occurrence of the illness from 80 to 15 percent.

Auto-immune responses play a role in rheumatoid arthritis, type I diabetes, multiple sclerosis, allergies, asthma, and a number of other disorders.

The Escherichia coli bacteria's Enterotoxin B Subunit which makes up this vaccine is known as ETxB.

The team is using just a transport component of the bacterium's toxin molecule. Called ETxB, the component is separated off from the rest of the protein so there is no chance of a vaccine causing stomach upsets in patients.

The first human tests should begin in six months.

The vaccine reduced the incidence of type 1 diabetes in mice strains prone to the disease from 80 per cent to 15 per cent. Arthritic mice show similar benefits. Williams is now collaborating with the pharmaceutical company Hunter Fleming to conduct the first human trials, which should begin in six months.

A model of how ETxB stops auto-immune response is available here.

This is pretty special. If a single vaccine could eliminate or even just substantially reduce the frequency of a wide range of auto-immune disorders the benefits would enormous.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2003 September 22 01:09 AM  Biotech Therapies

Bob Badour said at September 22, 2003 4:39 AM:

This is really exciting! Where do I sign up?

Patrick said at September 22, 2003 11:47 PM:

A pity that things like Type 1 diabetes will still hang on, from all the people whose insulin systems were damaged before the vaccine became available.

Hey, does this mean that people with AIDS never get these diseases?

Randall Parker said at September 23, 2003 12:48 AM:

Pat, the type I diabetes recovery: the gene therapy experiments are promising on that score. I think that once the immune response can be stopped the gene therapy experiments will be able to make better progress.

AIDS and auto-immunity: I've wondered about this in the past. Surely some peope with MS must have gotten AIDS at some point. Haven't read anything on it.

Louise Joel said at May 4, 2005 12:26 AM:

would this intervene sclerosis then? I got this swiftly as the result of an infection from a biopsy and it has affected all mucus membraines. I know the cause is related to bacteria and am wondering if the introduction of another bacteria would put a spanner in the works. I volunteer as guinea pig for testing. Apparently I already have two nasty types of coli in my blood, takers?

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