Injection of monoclonal antibodies against key self-proteins produced encouraging results in diseases models such as arthritis, allergy and breast cancer. In August Journal of Clinical Investigation Bryce Chackerian and colleagues at the National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, US, show how to convince immune systems to self generate therapeutic autoantibodies similar to the monoclonal antibodies.

Chackerianet al. developed a technique to link peptides with papillomavirus-like particles (VLP) and obtained a compound that could elicit specific antibodies even to normally nonimmunogenic self epitopes. Immunization of mice with VLP conjugated to a mouse TNF-α fusion protein induced a high-titer and long-lasting TNF-α autoantibodies that could block the development of collagen-induced arthritis (J Clin Invest 2001, 108:415-423).

Autoantibody-inducing vaccines based on conjugated VLPs can be highly immunogenic and are probably efficient in diseases for which monoclonal antibody-based therapies have been suggested. But, the safety of having long-term circulating self-reactive antibodies remains...

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