Therapeutic vaccine for acute and chronic motor neuron diseases: Implications for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

D. N. Angelov, S. Waibel, O. Guntinas-Lichius, M. Lenzen, W. F. Neiss, T. L. Tomov, E. Yoles, J. Kipnis, H. Schori, A. Reuter, A. Ludolph, M. Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

180 Scopus citations


Therapeutic vaccination with Copaxone (glatiramer acetate, Cop-1) protects motor neurons against acute and chronic degenerative conditions. In acute degeneration after facial nerve axotomy, the number of surviving motor neurons was almost two times higher in Cop-1-vaccinated mice than in nonvaccinated mice, or in mice injected with PBS emulsified in complete Freund's adjuvant (P < 0.05). In mice that express the mutant human gene Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase G93A (SOD1), and therefore simulate the chronic human motor neuron disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Cop-1 vaccination prolonged life span compared to untreated matched controls, from 211 ± 7 days (n = 15) to 263 ± 8 days (n = 14; P < 0.0001). Our studies show that vaccination significantly improved motor activity. In line with the experimentally based concept of protective autoimmunity, these findings suggest that Cop-1 vaccination boosts the local immune response needed to combat destructive self-compounds associated with motor neuron death. Its differential action in CNS autoimmune diseases and neurodegenerative disorders, depending on the regimen used, allows its use as a therapy for either condition. Daily administration of Cop-1 is an approved treatment for multiple sclerosis. The protocol for non-autoimmune neurodegenerative diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, remains to be established by future studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4790-4795
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 15 2003


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