Drugs which can modify the Immune System are potential candidates for MS therapy. T-Cells are integral components of the Immune System and are thought to play a role in the development of the disease.
These cells produce compounds called Cytokines which attract and stimulate other Immune cells.
A certain type of T-Cells called T-Helper type 1 (Th1) produce Cytokines that cause inflammation whereas a second set of T-Cells called T-Helper type 2 (Th2) produce Cytokines which stimulate B-Cells to produce AntiBodies.
Immunotherapy of AutoImmune Diseases such as MS may be achieved by inhibiting the production of Cytokines from Th1 cells and stimulating Cytokine production of Th2.
The scientists examined a compound called Pentoxifylline (PTX) which has been found to inhibit the production of some Th1 Cytokines and stimulates the production of some Th2 Cytokines.
Eight patients with Relapsing/Remitting MS were treated with PTX and Cytokine levels were measured in their blood.
Two inflammatory Cytokines called Tumor Necrosis Factor alpha and InterLeukin-12 (the Th1 type) were found to be significantly decreased whereas InterLeukin-4 and InterLeukin-4-10 (the Th2 type) were found to be elevated in the MS patients treated with PTX.
These results indicate that PTX modulates the Immune System in a favorable way and may have potential benefits as a treatment for MS. More studies are needed.