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GIFT15 – Is A Cure For Multiple Sclerosis On The Horizon?

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McGill University researchers in Canada have announced that _ in mice _ they may have found a way to treat and cure multiple sclerosis (MS). In animals they can reverse the devastating disease with a new treatment that suppresses the immune system and forces MS into remission.

Will the treatment work equality well in humans? Let’s hope so! Our wishes for success go out to researchers at the Jewish General Hospital Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research and McGill University in Montreal.

MS is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the central nervous system. This attack causes physical and cognitive disability that progresses over time. According to the news out of McGill new combination of two proteins stops this process:

The new treatment, appropriately named GIFT15, puts MS into remission by suppressing the immune response. This means it might also be effective against other autoimmune disorders like Crohn’s disease, lupus and arthritis, the researchers said, and could theoretically also control immune responses in organ transplant patients. Moreover, unlike earlier immune-suppressing therapies which rely on chemical pharmaceuticals, this approach is a personalized form of cellular therapy which utilizes the body’s own cells to suppress immunity in a much more targeted way.

Dr. Jacques Galipeau of the JGH Lady Davis Institute and McGill’s Faculty of Medicine discovered GIFT15. The news shook the world of science and raised the hopes of the patients who suffer from MS when it was published on August 9, 2009 in the journal Nature Medicine.

GIFT15 is 2 proteins, GSM-CSF and interleukin-15, combined in the laboratory. Individually each protein normally stimulates the immune system. Together however they suppress the immune system.

"You know those mythical animals that have the head of an eagle and the body of a lion? They’re called chimeras. In a lyrical sense, that’s what we’ve created," said Galipeau, a world-renowned expert in cell regeneration affiliated with the Segal Cancer Centre at the Jewish General and McGill’s Centre for Translational Research. "GIFT15 is a new protein hormone composed of two distinct proteins, and when they’re stuck together they lead to a completely unexpected biological effect."

Together as GIFT15 they change 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."

To effectively treat multiple sclerosis it must be attacked as early as possible. Of course human trials to study safety and efficacy are needed now. In the current animal studies side effects were non-existent.

Impressively the treatment was fully effective in a single dose of GIFT15.

"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."

PLEASE NOTE: DR. GALIPEAU IS AVAILABLE FOR MEDIA INTERVIEWS ONLY AS OF WED., AUGUST 12.

Contact: Mark Shainblum
mark.shainblum@mcgill.ca
514-398-2189

8 Comments

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  1. Leif Andersson says:
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    I got MS and is very interested to become a testperson in this prodjekt.
    Please contakt mee when the tests starts.

    Leif Andersson

  2. Facebook User says:
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    I have MS and I am a willing participant to be in any clinical studies you may have for gift15…Please keep me in mind…Thanks…Julie from Gainesville, Texas

  3. Kathleen Fortin says:
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    I too would like to be in on any trials of GIFT15,I was diagnosed with MS in 1989 and am presently being infused monthly with Tysabri.

  4. Steven Rosen says:
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    I have been diagnosed with chronic progresive MS since 1983. Went to a clinic in Florida in 1984 and began treatments with snake venom and continued for about 10 years until the FDA stopped all access. Short-story version, I was able to continue working and after some time I was able to drive newspaper delivery trucks again until my supply lines stopped. After some time the symptoms reappeared and I stopped working in 2007.
    Yes I would absolutely be interested in clinical trials. I am 55 years old, I currently live in Pennsylvania, and plan on enjoying my 6 grandchildren for many more years to come!

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    Thanks Lief, Julie, Kathleen and Steven. You may wonder what an attorney is doing writing about MS. My wife died of a rare cancer in 2008 and in trying to find treatments I became aware of stories like Steven’s. So I use a percentage of my time blogging on treatments of tough diseases. I also have a dear friend with MS and so I hit that condition particularly hard. The good news in that spectacular progress is being made in numerous new areas like GIFT15. One of my favorite resources for MS is Stu’s Views.http://wwwmsviewsandrelatednews.blogspot.com/2009/08/opening-doors-with-assistive-technology.html

    I subscribe to his email and then follow links to new research. I also have Google Alert for every new treatment and watch it develop.

    I am VERY interested in your experiences and what your doctors are telling you. What is happening to you may help others. My wife died but we found a brilliant new treatment at Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis by Dr. William C. Chapman that is now curing people with an incurable cancer. You have to stay on it. Keep asking questions. The 4 of you who Commented on my GIFT 15 article really make me smile. Can we stay in touch? Not just on the blog but via e-mail. I put out some new treatment or advance in MS at least 3 times a week. I’d love to stay connected with you folks.

  6. Guy Smoot says:
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    My wife has MS and is willing to be a test subject
    I will take her anywhere anytime. She is a real trooper. (703) 263-9014 We live in Virginia near DC. Please Please Please

  7. Pamela Zurvalec says:
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    I am very interested in being in a clinical trial for GIFT15. I have Ms and cannot live up to my full potentials. I want to be able to run with my dogs again, shovel snow, stack wood, etc. and everything else I cannot do anymore.

    GIFT15 is HOPE.

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    I do not know about the GIFT15 trials but in general you can simply send your medical records to the doctor in charge of the Clinical Trial and call their telephone # and be interviewed by a nurse. Their criteria can sometimes exclude people.

    For each of you I would immediately get my Multiple Sclerosis medical file, with all lab workups. I would have copies made so that I can quickly send it off to a doctor or hospital. Putting it all on a CD or DVD is a really good idea and, of course you must organize it so it makes sense.

    Remember that GIFT15 is being tested on mice. Very few discoveries translate from mice to humans. But GIFT15 is worth watching and I am watching it for a dear divorced mom/friend with MS and a 5-year-old-son.How do I watch GIFT15?

    1. Use Google Alerts.
    2. Add the search term GIFT15 as an alert. Whenever GIFT15 appears on the web I get an email with a link.
    3. Do the same with GIFT15 + Clinical Trial
    4. Ditto with McGill + GIFT15
    5. Ditto with the doctors name + multiple sclerosis

    Any way you get the idea. I am staying on this topic so please find a way to stay in touch.