Tuberculosis vaccine might help prevent MS

The American Academy of Neurology said on Wednesday that a tuberculosis vaccine may help prevent multiple sclerosis in people with early signs of the disease.

The study was conducted with 73 people who had experienced numbness, vision problems or problems with balance, and an MRI that was suggestive of MS. This stage of MS is called clinically isolated syndrome, and about half of patients with CIS develop MS within two years.

Approximately half of the study participants received a tuberculosis vaccine called Bacille Calmette-Guérin, and other participants received a placebo. The participants received a brain scan once a month for six months, and received MS drug interferon beta-1a for a year. Following that, they took an MS drug recommended to them by their neurologist. Each participant was evaluated five years after the study began.

Researchers said 58 percent of people who received the vaccine did not develop MS, while 30 percent of those who received the placebo did not.

No major side effects were reported in the study.

"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," Giovanni Ristori, of Sapienza University of Rome in Italy, said. "Doctors should not start using this vaccine to treat MS or clinically isolated syndrome."