Professor Ruth Arnon
Our work on synthetic vaccines relates to the development of an influenza and anti-cancer vaccine. We have demonstrated the efficacy of a synthetic recombinant influenza vaccine, comprising a mixture of flagella expressing several conserved epitopes, in protecting both young and old mice against challenge viral infection. On the basis of these epitopes a vaccine that induces a broad-spectrum anti-influenza immune response in humans has been constructed and was shown to induce protective immunity in SCID mice reconstructed with human lymphocytes. These results were the basis for the establishment of a start-up company Biondvax. An epitope-based vaccine expressing peptides from the cancer-related Muc-1 repeating unit led to a significant decrease in tumor growth.
The synthetic Copolymer-1 (Cop 1) developed in our laboratory was shown to efficiently suppress experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) and to be clinically beneficial in multiple sclerosis (MS). It was approved by the FDA under the name Copaxone®. It was previously shown to induce specific suppressor T-cell lines, with cytokine profile of TH2 subtype, upon exposure to either Cop 1 or MBP. This lends support to the �bystander� suppression by Cop 1, and explains its broad-spectrum effect in MS. These suppressor T cells can pass the blood-brain barrier and accumulate in the diseased organ, namely the brain. Recent results indicate that Cop 1 is effective in mice and rats also when administered orally, and led to the current clinical trial in patients (with Michael Sela). More recent results on the mode of action of Copaxone demonstrate that it is an immunomodulatory, driving to a Th1 to Th2 shift and the secretion of beneficial cytokines in the target organ (the brain). Furthermore it leads to neuroprotection and neurogeneration, as well as to inhibition of the process of dmyelination.
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