Protective autoimmunity is the body's defense mechanism against destructive self-compounds such as those commonly associated with neurodegenerative disorders. Autoimmune disease and neurodegenerative disorders can thus be viewed as two extreme manifestations of the same process. Therefore, when designing therapy, it is important to avoid an approach that will cure the one by invoking the other. One way to stop, or at least slow down, the progression of neurodegeneration without risking development of an autoimmune disease is by boosting protective autoimmunity in a well-controlled way. Copolymer 1 (Cop-1), an approved drug for the treatment of multiple sclerosis, can be used as a treatment for autoimmune diseases and as a therapeutic vaccine for neurodegenerative diseases. We propose that the protective effect of Cop-1 vaccination is obtained through a well-controlled inflammatory reaction, and that the activity of Cop-1 in driving this reaction derives from its ability to serve as a'universal antigen'by weakly activating a wide spectrum of self-reactive T cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319-323
Number of pages5
JournalTrends in Molecular Medicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2002


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