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Different Vaccine Is Making Headlines, This One for MS

BioNTech vaccine reduces severity of symptoms and delays progression, study suggests
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 12, 2021 2:41 PM CST

(Newser) – BioNTech has a second vaccine making headlines, but this one has nothing to do with COVID. Instead, it shows promise against multiple sclerosis. In a study at Science, researchers say the vaccine reduced the severity of symptoms in lab mice, delayed the disease's progression in mice with early signs of the disease, and even restored motor functions, reports MultipleSclerosisToday and FierceBiotech. At the latter site, Angus Liu explains that MS emerges when a person's immune system misfires and damages nerve cells in the spinal cord and brain. That results in debilitating neurological and motor issues. "Existing treatments work by systemically suppressing the immune system," Liu says. "That can control MS, but it also leaves patients vulnerable to infections."

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This new vaccine, however, does not suppress the immune system and thus avoids those serious potential side effects. The vaccine uses the same messenger RNA (mRNA) technique employed by the German company's successful coronavirus vaccine with Pfizer, and both websites dig into the particulars of the process. The researchers themselves sound optimistic, noting in the study that the "production of mRNA pharmaceuticals is fast and cost-efficient," and adding that the "tailoring the treatment for the disease-causing antigens of individual patients is conceivable." (Actress Selma Blair has been open in discussing her own struggles with the disease.)

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