While at Insight Biotek Inc., Dr. Van Alstyne obtained three issued patents:
MS researchers report(Vancouver Sun, 5 Sept 1983)
United Press International
NEW YORK - Frontiers in the search for the conquest of multiple sclerosis come in many forms.
Dr. Diane Van Alstyne and associates at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, for example, presented new evidence at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology supporting a theory that a virus is associated with the disease called the great crippler of young adults.
The evidence is based on lab studies of mice that can be made to develop a disease very much like MS. It is called experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, EAE.
EAE can e induced by injection of the mouse's own myelin — the sheath surrounding nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord. Or it can be induced in a species of mice through a virus infection.
In the new report, Dr. Van Alstyne and associates said they found that if mice are given a double-dose immunization with myelin containing rubella virus this produces much more severe and rapidly progressing EAE than the injection of myelin does.
They said this seems to indicate an animal disease similar to MS can be started by a virus infection that alters myelin in such a way as to provoke much stronger immune response from the animal, resulting in more severe illness.
In a different research approach, Dr. John R. Richert, a Georgetown University neurologist, reported he is able to stimulate immune system cells from the cerebral spinal fluid of multiple sclerosis patients and keep the cells alive in a culture for more than give months.
He told fellow scientists it has not been possible previously to grow these cells more than one month.
Multiple sclerosis is a chronic disease of the central nervous system. The disease process destroys myelin. Messages that travel via the nerve network from the brain cannot make it over the areas where myelin is wrecked.
Richert, working on the theory that MS is an autoimmune disease, has been studying T lymphocytes. Those are white blood cells responsible for much of the body's immune reactions.
Using a protein food in myelin, the Georgetown scientists were able to stimulate T lymphocytes and keep them alive.
"This is important," Richert says, "because now we can keep T lymphocytes alive long enough to study the disease process and perhaps learn how to manipulate the course of the disease."