Montreal researchers announce new vaccine approach to stimulate regeneration after spinal cord injuries

December 08, 1999

Montreal: Monday, December 6, 1999 - A team of scientists from the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC), McGill University and Université de Montréal today announced a major advance in the struggle to find a treatment for spinal cord injuries.

"We have successfully tested a new vaccine approach to block molecules in the spinal cord that prevent nerve regeneration," says Dr. Samuel David of the Montreal General Hospital Research Institute, MUHC and the lead investigator on the project. "The regrowth we have obtained using this technique is far greater than any that has been reported previously. This is a significant advance in the field, and changes the way we think and work toward the development of therapeutic strategies to eventually treat spinal cord injuries in humans."

"Spinal cord injuries are often sustained by young adults leading to a lifetime of disability," points out Dr. Peter Braun of the Department of Biochemistry at McGill University. "Since there is no cure to repair damaged nerve fibres in the injured spinal cord, the paralysis, sensory loss and loss of bladder and bowel control are permanent. Research carried out by our group in Montreal revealed that there are several molecules that can inhibit and prevent nerve regeneration. Myelin, a fat rich insulating membrane that wraps around nerve fibres contains these inhibitory molecules. The vaccine approach we have tested is able to block these inhibitors without producing unwanted side effects."

Dr. Lisa McKerracher of the département de pathologie et biologie cellulaire at the Université de Montréal describes the advance as "a relatively non-invasive strategy to stimulate the animal¹s own immune system to produce antibodies against proteins that inhibit the regrowth of axons or nerve fibres." "Moreover," she continues, "this vaccine approach allowed us to target many types of inhibitors not just one as has been the case in the past."

The developments announced today by Drs. David, McKerracher and Braun were published in the November issue of the international Neuroscience journal - Neuron. Their findings were also selected as one of three papers on nerve regeneration to receive special attention at last month¹s international meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in Miami.

Dr. David says that the next step towards making this discovery suitable for clinical use will be to identify other inhibitors. Then a cocktail of purified inhibitors can be tested in the laboratory for use as a vaccine in humans. "But there is much basic science work and testing ahead of us before we reach that stage," he cautions. "However, this is an important milestone toward the development of a treatment for spinal cord injuries."
For further information, please contact:

Gillian Ross MacCormack, MUHC Communications
(514) 934-8097
Ann-Marie Bourdouhxe, University Relations Office, McGill University
(514) 398-6754
Marie-Claude Chalvignac, Director of Communication, Université de Montréal
(514) 343-7704

McGill University

Related Immune System Articles from Brightsurf:

How the immune system remembers viruses
For a person to acquire immunity to a disease, T cells must develop into memory cells after contact with the pathogen.

How does the immune system develop in the first days of life?
Researchers highlight the anti-inflammatory response taking place after birth and designed to shield the newborn from infection.

Memory training for the immune system
The immune system will memorize the pathogen after an infection and can therefore react promptly after reinfection with the same pathogen.

Immune system may have another job -- combatting depression
An inflammatory autoimmune response within the central nervous system similar to one linked to neurodegenerative diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS) has also been found in the spinal fluid of healthy people, according to a new Yale-led study comparing immune system cells in the spinal fluid of MS patients and healthy subjects.

COVID-19: Immune system derails
Contrary to what has been generally assumed so far, a severe course of COVID-19 does not solely result in a strong immune reaction - rather, the immune response is caught in a continuous loop of activation and inhibition.

Immune cell steroids help tumours suppress the immune system, offering new drug targets
Tumours found to evade the immune system by telling immune cells to produce immunosuppressive steroids.

Immune system -- Knocked off balance
Instead of protecting us, the immune system can sometimes go awry, as in the case of autoimmune diseases and allergies.

Too much salt weakens the immune system
A high-salt diet is not only bad for one's blood pressure, but also for the immune system.

Parkinson's and the immune system
Mutations in the Parkin gene are a common cause of hereditary forms of Parkinson's disease.

How an immune system regulator shifts the balance of immune cells
Researchers have provided new insight on the role of cyclic AMP (cAMP) in regulating the immune response.

Read More: Immune System News and Immune System Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to