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Scientists at the NTI Competence Center to test a drug against multiple sclerosis before 2021

29.12.2018
Source: TASS

As a method of treatment, the researchers suggested that protein fragments considered as exogenous by the immune system are introduced into the body in a special way. The new approach “forces the body to reach a ‘peace deal’”, said the IBCh RAS representatives.

Specialists of the NTI Competence Center on the premises of Shemyakin-Ovchinnikov Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry (IBCh RAS) developing a drug to treat MS plan to complete the third stage of drug testing by the end of 2020. This was reported to TASS by Alexey Belogurov, author of the scientific work, Head of the Laboratory of Molecular Biomedicine at the Central Scientific and Technical Institute, Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry of RAS, Doctor of Chemical Sciences.

“The outcomes of two clinical trial phases funded by Pharmsynthez, a member of the consortium of the Competence Center, have showed that the drug is virtually completely safe for patients and inhibits the development of MS in patients with progression resistant to treatment with first-line drugs. In 15 of 20 subjects, we observed a sharp decrease in the dynamics of the emergence of new active demyelination foci – the spread of plaques accumulating a contrast agent on MRI. The third stage of testing will be decisive, and is scheduled to be complete by the end of 2020,” said Belogurov.

As a method of treatment, the researchers suggested that protein fragments considered as exogenous by the immune system are introduced into the body in a special way. The new approach “forces the body to reach ‘a peace deal’”, explains the IBCh RAS representatives. After the treatment, the body no longer recognizes its own cells as exogenous and regards them again as its own. Patients from several Russian clinical centers participated in the drug testing.

Supported by the Russian Science Foundation, IBCh researchers are also engaged in development of an alternative method for treating MS based on targeted (point) therapy, which is currently actively used in the treatment of cancer. However, unlike cancer cells, autoreactive cells arising in patients with MS are much more difficult to distinguish from healthy ones.

“The goal of our research is to understand how to distinguish pathological cells from the rest, in order to then target them with the help of drugs based on immunotoxins. The procedure is unique since only the pathogenic cells are expected to intake this toxin and be killed afterwards,” said Belogurov.

About the disease

In multiple sclerosis, the human immune system damages the myelin sheath of the nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord, which are responsible for sending impulses to the body. Symptoms may be various and mild, such as numbness in the limbs, or sever, such as paralysis or blindness.

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information USA (NCBI), 2.5 million people worldwide live with this chronic disease attacking the central nervous system. Women are 3 times more likely to get MS than men, and the patients’ age ranges from 20 to 40 years. And almost 10% of young patients had an onset of their MS under 18 years of age.

Findings from the authors of the study estimate more than 200 thousand people in Russia are living with MS.

About the NTI Competence Center

The IBCh RAS NTI Competence Center is among the 14 Competence Centers of the National Technology Initiative dealing with the biotechnology development issues. Each of the centers brings together universities, research centers and innovative companies to create end-to-end technologies that will be in demand in new global markets in 15-20 years.

Russian Venture Company acts as an operator of the NTI Competence Centers is.



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