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.


BCG vaccine


  • Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) is a live vaccine made up of a weakened strain ofMycobacterium bovis,a bacterium that causes tuberculosis (TB) in cattle
  • The bacteria are altered so that they do not cause a TB infection, but stimulate the body’s immune system to make it resistant to the disease
  • The vaccine has existed for 80 years and is one of the most widely used of all current vaccines, reaching more than 80% of newborns and infants in countries where it is part of the national childhood immunisation programme


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 inNeurology: “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.”


taken with kind permission from 

lesson prepared by Angloland skola ||

Words in the news

multiple sclerosis also known asdisseminated sclerosisorencephalomyelitis disseminata, is aninflammatorydisease in which theinsulating coversofnerve cellsin thebrainandspinal cordare damaged. This damage disrupts the ability of parts of the nervous system to communicate, resulting in a wide range ofsignsandsymptoms

a small scale study –involving few people or things, covering or involving a small area, small in scope;especially:  small in output or operation

to ward off – to hold someone or something off; to fight someone or somethingoff, to stave off, to defend against the attack of

to be trialed – to be experimented on I a clinical trial or research

to affect –to have an influence on or effect a change in:

spinal cord –the thick, whitish cord of nerve tissue that extends from the medulla oblongata down through the spinal column and from which the spinal nerves branch off to various parts of the body.

numbness –deprived of the power to feel or move normally; benumbed

difficulties-something not easily done, accomplished, comprehended, or solved.

a troublesome or embarrassing state of affairs, especially of financial affairs. Often used in the plural.

strain – to exert to the utmost , to apply pressure upon something

cattle – any of various chiefly domesticated mammals of the genusBos,including cows, steers, bulls, and oxen, often raised for meat and dairy products.

altered – changed, amended

resistant – impervious, showing resistance and opposition

newborns – newly born babies

infant –very youngoffspringof ahuman

to be given a placebo –a simulated or otherwise medically ineffectual treatment for a disease or other medical condition intended to deceive the recipient. Sometimes patients given a placebo treatment will have a perceived or actual improvement in a medical condition, a phenomenon commonly called theplacebo effect.

promising – favorable, beneficial, showing signs of future success.

clinically isolated syndrome –an individual’s firstneurologicalepisode, caused byinflammationordemyelinationofnerve tissue. An episode may bemonofocal, in whichsymptomspresent at a single site in thecentral nervous system, ormultifocal, in which multiple sites exhibit symptoms.

to reduce the risk – to lessen, to minimize, to diminish

to add weight – to add importance and significance to an issue or matter

exposure –an act of subjecting or an instance of being subjected to an action or an influence:

immune system – theimmune systemis a system of biological structures andprocesseswithin an organismthat protects againstdisease. To function properly, an immune system must detect a wide variety of agents, fromvirusestoparasitic worms, and distinguish them from the organism’s own healthytissue.

handy – useful

accompanying – something that accompanies or goes hand in hand with  something else

editorial –aneditorial,leading article(UK), orleader(UK) is anopinion piecewritten by the senior editorial staff or publisher of anewspaper ormagazineor any other written document.

to induce – to bring about , to cause ,to cause (someone or something)to dosomething,  to cause (something) to happen or exist

medical: to give (a pregnant woman) special medicine in order to make her give birth : to cause (labor or birth) to begin by giving special drugs to a pregnant woman

to move by persuasion or influence, to call forth or bring about by influence or stimulation

protective immunity –Inherited, acquired, or induced resistance to infection by a specific pathogen.


taken with kind permission from

lesson prepared by Angloland skola ||