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Ann Neurol. 1988 Mar;23(3):211-22.

Immunotherapy of multiple sclerosis.

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Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA 02115.


Based on the assumption that multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease, a number of clinical trials designed to suppress the immune system or to restore immune balance in multiple sclerosis have been attempted. Depending on the disease category, the clinical goals of immunotherapy differ. Therapeutic goals include improving recovery from acute attacks, preventing or decreasing the number of relapses, and halting the disease in its progressive stage. The ultimate goal of multiple sclerosis therapy is the early treatment of patients in an attempt to halt the onset of progression. Specific strategies of immunotherapy include generation of a suppressor influence, removal of helper/inducer cells, manipulation of activated T cells, manipulation of class II major histocompatibility complex-bearing cells, alteration of lymphocyte traffic, extracorporeal removal of serum factors or cells, and manipulation of antigen-specific cells. Present treatment modalities are beginning to show some efficacy of nonspecific immunosuppression, but these treatments are limited by their toxicities. As the immunotherapy of multiple sclerosis moves to the next stage in the coming years, patients at an earlier stage of their disease will have to be treated, nontoxic forms of therapy developed, clinical trials lengthened, and a laboratory monitor of the disease developed. Given the positive effects of immunotherapy seen thus far in the disease, it is possible that appropriate immunotherapeutic intervention may provide effective treatment for the disease in the future.

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