DNA vaccines represent one of the most significant developments in vaccine technology in recent years. Although, in general, studies have primarily focused on the induction of protective immune responses against infectious pathogens, the technology may prove useful for other immune- related diseases, including autoimmunity. Autoimmune disease results from a breakdown in tolerance to self antigens; however, the same fundamental immunological reactions that control immune responses to foreign antigens are also likely to operate during the Course of autoimmune disease. These include the reciprocal regulation of Th cell subsets. Th1 cells appear to be involved in many organ-specific autoimmune diseases while suppression of disease is associated with cells of the Th2 phenotype. It has been possible, therefore, to suppress many of the pathological consequences of autoimmunity by manipulating the Th1/Tb2 cell balance. The induction of Th2 responses by DNA immunization might therefore be expected to have a profound effect on the course of autoimmune disease. Indeed, we have demonstrated that DNA immunization can protect animals against the autoimmune central nervous system inflammatory disease, experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). As many other autoantigens have now been identified, the application of this technology to other autoimmune diseases warrants investigation.
- DNA vaccines
- Experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis