Interleukin-5 Jab Offers Hope For Treating Autoimmune Disease
By Rebecca Lim | Health & Medicine
June 4, 2012
Research into treatments for autoimmune diseases may have received a booster shot as interleukin-5 injections show promise in regulating the body’s immune system.
AsianScientist (Jun. 4, 2012) – Research into treatments for autoimmune diseases may have received a booster shot as interleukin-5 injections show promise in regulating the body’s immune system.
Autoimmune diseases result from an overactive immune response that causes the body to attack itself. While most research on autoimmune diseases focus on reducing the activity of renegade immune cells, Australian researchers have uncovered a potential new way to increase the “good” cells of the immune system – through injection of a cell-signaling protein called interleukin-5 (IL-5).
IL-5 belongs to a group of cell-signaling proteins known as cytokines, which induce the body’s T-cell front-line defenses by binding to their receptors. The IL-5 cytokine boost allows the body’s immune system to better regulate its response to disease without going into overdrive.
The team, led by Dr. Suzanne Hodgkinson, from UNSW’s Faculty of Medicine and Liverpool Hospital, cloned the IL-5 cytokine and injected it into rats with the autoimmune neurological condition called Guillain-Barré syndrome. These rats recovered much quicker and, if treated as a precaution, did not fall ill.
The method has also shown promise in animals with other autoimmune conditions such as multiple sclerosis.
“One of the nice things about this discovery is that it is one of the few treatments in the autoimmune world and in the transplantation world that works not by attacking the effector cells, but by increasing the good regulating cells. So it works in a very different way from almost every other treatment we’ve got available,” said Hodgkinson.
Hodgkinson says the body’s immune response to an IL-5 injection is similar to if one were to swallow parasitic worms (helminths).
“The process we’ve developed may be the same process that the helminths kick off. When you get a helminths infestation, one of the changes in your immune response is an increase in cells called eosinophils and these cells make the cytokine Interleukin-5,” said Hodgkinson.
“In this new treatment, it’s a matter of injecting the interleukin-5 and the body does the rest. It’s both safe and effective and we think inducing the immune response by injection may be more attractive to people than swallowing parasitic worms.”
Human trials are the next step for evaluating this new treatment, and these could be underway within two to five years. The research has been published in the journal Blood.
The article can be found at: Tran GT et al. (2012) IL-5 promotes induction of antigen-specific CD4+CD25+ T regulatory cells that suppress autoimmunity .
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.