Immune system discovery could lead to a vaccine for heart disease

(Image: Shutterstock)
(Image: Shutterstock)

Most people probably know that plaque buildup in the arteries surrounding the heart is one of the major causes of heart disease. The reason that the plaque does accumulate, however, is often due to an inflammation of the artery walls. Recently, scientists from California’s La Jolla Institute for Allergy & Immunology were able to identify the type of immune cells responsible for that inflammation. With this knowledge in hand, they now hope to be able to develop a vaccine for heart disease.

Vascular immunology expert Dr. Klaus Ley led the research project, in which mouse models were used. He observed that the inflammation appeared to be the immune cells’ response to the presence of a protein that occurred naturally in the body – in other words, it appears to be an autoimmune disorder, in which a normal element of the body is mistaken as a foreign organism.

What’s more, the immune cells’ reaction suggests that they have a “memory” of having encountered the protein previously. “Immune memory is the underlying basis of successful vaccines,” said Dr. Ley. “This means that conceptually it becomes possible to consider the development of a vaccine for heart disease.”

He suggested that a “tolerogenic” vaccine could be created, which would cause the immune system to tolerate the the protein, instead of producing inflammation-causing antibodies. While such a vaccine could still be years away, Ley is nonetheless excited about the possibilities.

“If successful, a tolerogenic vaccine could stop the inflammation component of heart disease,” he stated. “This could probably be used in conjunction with the statins (cholesterol-lowering drugs) that have already taken a significant chunk out of the numbers of people with heart disease. Together, they could deliver a nice one-two punch that could be important in further reducing heart disease.”

A paper on the research was recently published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.


I can see this research helping people live longer that have troubles already. But I don't understand what caused this immune response in the first place...we now have a way to treat this...but wouldn't it be easier, cheaper and faster to simply stop the cause of the inflimation?

Is there a term for using lots of science and intelligence, for something that is philosophically flawed?

Aside from "western" or "conventional" mainstream medicine, all other schools of health understand that symptoms are not the disease. Symptoms, are the bodies logical response to a trigger. Suppressing symptoms does not eliminate the disease. Rather it just delays presentation of the underlining problem, which may very well re-appear later as a more severe symptom.

Such ideas are understood is traditional Chinese medicine, and naturopathy. A rather detailed explained of this was put together by Reckweg, (I believer starting in the 1950's) as homotoxicology.

Let's get back to the article.

Although there may be some use for this research, we don't need a vaccination to prevent cardiovascular disease. This is a modern illness caused by sugar, junk food and stress.

If the immune system is creating inflammation, perhaps instead of coming up with a high tech way to stop it, let's ask the question of why is the immune system doing this? What triggers have entered the body? What inflammatory toxins? Often we may not understand the logic behind certain symptoms, but their is an "intelligence" to what the body is trying to do.

Symptoms are the body's response to a problem, not the problem. Conventional medicine is also called (and more appropriately) allopathic medicine. This means to go against. So a MD sees a symptom, and prescribes a drug to stop the body from producing such symptom. Although we can praise this system for benefits in emergency medicine, is has been a monumental failure in the prevention and treatment of chronic, degenerative disease.

In naturopathy, we tend to look at such inflammation as the body's self protective mechanism. We look at many symptoms as such, and suppressing those symptoms will just cause the underlining problem to surface as another symptoms later.

Other issues are the "side effects" of vaccination which can disrupt immune system function. If we're going to have all sorts of research into developing vaccinations, then how about looking into the cause of auto-immune disease. This is the age of auto-immunity. Injecting all sorts of synthetic potions into the body in order to program specific responses is just asking for trouble.

Take away points I'm trying to make:
1) We already know how to prevent cardiovascular disease with diet, lifestyle and anti-inflammatory natural supplements.
2) If we step back far enough, our socio-economic system is a major (if not the major cause) of cardiovascular disease.
3) The philosophy of conventional medicine is too reductionist. Single symptoms, looking for a single bio-chemical cause, and then attempts to block the mechanism with a single agent. In reality, the body is a complex network. You can't understand cardiovascular disease, without understanding the context in which it takes place.

What I really ask people to do, is look at the body with the same train of thought TZM asks people to look at society with. Mulch-factorial, systems approach. Dynamic, self correcting and adapting.

I'm all for the research, and in time much good can come from it, but we need to put the research in context of a deeper paradigm, then suppressing the body's response to inflammatory triggers.

Well said Saul Marcus, ND
I definitely agree with your train of thought and actually try to expose others to same information.
A lot of individuals seem to agree on the general thought, but have also been way too 'exposed' to the current system and its way of 'dealing' with the issues (which is basically treating the symptoms and not the cause) resulting in a lack of willingness to actively oppose it due to various fears.

I also try to tell them that they should definitely do their own research in regards to medical topics so they could arrive at informed decisions as opposed to just behaving like religious folks and take doctors at their word.

On one point, there is a good chance to think that a lot of the doctors may think their approach is 'good', but an increasing number of them leaves the establishment to pursue their own interests or do things independently because they realized how the system really works.

On another end, there are some doctors inside the system who will 'off the record' at the very least give certain nods to their patients and tell them to try less than orthodox methods (that actually work).
They cannot do it openly though as that would mean compromising their own license.

I was diagnosed with B12 deficiency in October 2012. I was on a protein diet to lose weight but was still very tired. My strangest symptom was that my tongue felt on fire most of the time.

nice post and nice blog