TB vaccine ‘could help prevent MS’ Last updated 5 Dec 2013 01:00 GMT By Helen Briggs BBC News MRI brain scan showing multiple sclerosis lesions An anti-tuberculosis vaccine could prevent multiple sclerosis, early research suggests. A small-scale study by researchers at the Sapienza University of Rome has raised hopes that the disease can be warded off when early symptoms appear. More research is needed before the BCG vaccine can be trialled on MS patients. The MS Society said the chance to take a safe and effective preventative treatment after a first MS-like attack would be a huge step forward. MS is a disease affecting nerves in the brain and spinal cord, causing problems with muscle movement, balance and vision. Early signs include numbness, vision difficulties or problems with balance. About half of people with a first episode of symptoms go on to develop MS within two years, while 10% have no more problems. In the study, published in the journal Neurology, Italian researchers gave 33 people who had early signs of MS an injection of BCG vaccine. The other 40 individuals in the study were given a placebo. After five years, 30% of those who received the placebo had not developed MS, compared with 58% of those vaccinated. “These results are promising, but much more research needs to be done to learn more about the safety and long-term effects of this live vaccine,” said study leader Dr Giovanni Ristori. “Doctors should not start using this vaccine to treat MS or clinically isolated syndrome.” Dr Susan Kohlhaas, head of biomedical research at the MS Society, said it was a small but interesting study. "It’s really encouraging to see positive results from this small trial, but they’ll need validating in larger and longer-term studies before we know if the BCG vaccination can reduce the risk of someone developing MS. “Ultimately, the chance to take a safe and effective preventative treatment after a first MS-like attack would be a huge step forward.” The findings add weight to a theory that exposure to infections early in life might reduce the risk of diseases such as MS by stimulating the body’s immune system. Dr Dennis Bourdette, of Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, US, said the research suggested “BCG could prove to be a ‘safe, inexpensive, and handy’ treatment for MS”. He wrote in an accompanying editorial in Neurology: “The theory is that exposure to certain infections early in life might reduce the risk of these diseases by inducing the body to develop a protective immunity.” BBC © 2013
when i was 12, we had to get tb jabs done. when they did the circle of needles in the forarm they took me to the hosp to see if i needed the injection. they repeated it at the hosp n decided i didnt as i was immune???
could i have had it done when i was v young?
my 1st symptoms happened at 12/13
I had a BCG at school when I was 15, got dx this year aged 28. Does it mean it needs to be repeated?
Hi Catnips - the heaf test (the circle of needles) is done to see whether you have been exposed to TB and developed your own antibodies. If a negative response you are given the BCG injection. At least I think it is how it works. No doubt someone will be able to confirm or otherwise for us.
My son had contact wth someone who had TB and so was tested along with all other contacts. My son had a positive heaf test and was given a long course of antibiotics. Unfortunately there was a delay as the person reading the heaf test got it wrong and only 3 weeks later when my son had another heaf test at school it was positive. It certainly does not seem to be a foolproof test and relies, like many, on the expertise of the person interpreting the results.
Perhaps some medics on here can advise.