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January 19, 1990 - Image 38

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-01-19

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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FRIDAY, JANUARY 19, 1990

Cohen has researched several auto-immune diseases.

Weizmann Procedure
For Arthritis In Tests

Rehovot, Israel — A new
Weizmann Institute
therapeutic T-cell vaccine pro-
cedure against rheumatoid
arthritis is now undergoing
early clinical testing at a
hospital in the Netherlands.
The T-cell vaccination pro-
cedure, developed by Professor
Irun Cohen of the department
of cell biology, is an out-
growth of his research in
auto-immune diseases, of
which rheumatoid arthritis is
the most common example.
An estimated 2.1 million
Americans suffer from it; two-
thirds of them are women, ac-
cording to the most recent
statistics of the Arthritis
Foundation in Atlanta, Ga.
The Phase I clinical tests
being conducted at the
Leiden University Hospital
are to establish the safety to
humans of the procedure.
Research to date has been
on laboratory animals by
Cohen and his associates at
Weizmann. They have work-
ed successfully with a varie-
ty of auto-immune diseases,
including an experimental
form of rheumatoid arthritis.
Earlier, they developed a
parallel T-cell vaccine ap-
proach for multiple sclerosis
which is now undergoing ear-
ly safety testing at Boston's
Brigham and Women's
Hospital.
The T-cell vaccination ap-
proach utilizes the patient's
own T-lymphocytes, which
are initially introduced in the
bone marrow. Ultimately,
after maturing in the thymus
gland, where they are expos-
ed to the hormone thymosin,
the cells mediate cellular im-
mune responses.
In people with auto-
immune diseases, some T-
cells turn renegade: instead of
battling bacteria or viruses,
they — in the case of

rheumatoid arthritis — at-
tack the body's joints.
Last April, Cohen's article,
"The Self, The World and
Auto-Immunity," appeared in
Scientific American. In it, he
presented evidence that the
auto-immune system is both
more complex and flexible
than previously believed.
His research has involved
the isolation of T-cells from
the blood specimens of
animals with various auto- 1
immune conditions. The cells,
once isolated, are then at-
tenuated or weakened and,
finally, re-introduced into the
stricken animal. Its immune

Research to date
has been on
laboratory animals.

system is then deployed to
recognize and fight the
therapeutic cells, a procedure
that strengthens the animal's
ability to seek out and
gradually destroy the
rebellious ones.
The Phase I clinical trial is
the first of several stages of
investigation and monitoring
that the vaccination must be
put through before it can be
declared harmless of side-
effects in humans.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a
worldwide disease. Recent
studies have shown that its
highest incidence is among
American Indian tribes.
Studies in Israel show it is
more prevalent among
European-origin than
Sephardic Jews. It has
unusually low incidence in
Jerusalem.
Cohen, who was born and
reared in Chicago, holds the
Helen and Morris Mauerber-
ger Chair in Immunology at
Weizmann.

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