Getting Closer to Better MS Drugs

New multiple sclerosis drug may be more effective, with fewer side effects

(RxWiki News) People who are taking drugs for multiple sclerosis (MS) can be faced with many serious side effects. Scientists have produced a new MS drug that may have fewer side effects while also helping patients deal with their disease.

The drugs currently used to treat multiple sclerosis (MS) affect the entire immune system.  This therapy puts patients at risk of many side effects, including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and a higher risk of infections.

To tackle this problem, scientists have made a new type of drug that is aimed only at the cells that play a role in autoimmune diseases - diseases when the immune system attacks healthy body tissue - like MS.

Because the new drug does not attack the entire immune system, it also seems to have less harmful side effects.

"A new drug for MS may have less side effects."

In tests on animals, the drug basically eliminated MS with fewer side effects, says lead researcher Tom Burris, Ph.D., from the Department of Molecular Therapeutics at the Florida campus of the Scripps Research Institute.

Burris adds that the research team is talking to companies who are interested in helping develop the drug further so that one day it can be used on humans. According to Burris, if you can turn off the signals of the TH17 cells, then you can eliminate MS, at least in animal models.

According to Charles Edmonds, Ph.D., of the National Institutes of Health, this new drug may eventually lead to treatments for not only MS but also other autoimmune diseases. Inflammation is a key characteristic in autoimmune diseases such as MS, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and inflammatory bowel disease.

In Depth

  • The drug compound (SR1001) works by finding and shutting down a certain type of cell called TH17
  • Past studies have shown that TH17 cells makes Interleukin-17, a molecule that can give rise to inflammation
  • The SR1001 compounded used in this study appears to do just that
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Review Date: 
April 18, 2011