New Immunotherapy Improves MS Symptoms in Patients

The new therapy aims at destroying cells infected by EBV & could prevent the progression of multiple sclerosis.

Published21 Nov 2018, 06:33 AM IST
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2 min read

A clinical trial of a new cellular immunotherapy for multiple sclerosis has found to improve the symptoms and quality of life for patients living with the disease.

This is the first time that such a clinical trial has been conducted and the results have been published in the journal JCI Insight.

The new therapy targets the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) since the researchers had theorized that multiple sclerosis was caused by the collection of cells infected by EBV in the brain. So a targeted therapy aimed at destroying these cells could prevent the progression of multiple sclerosis.

The EBV theory was developed by Professor Michael Pender, a researcher from the University of Queensland and Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital (RBWH). The new immunotherapy was developed by Professor Rajiv Khanna and his team at QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute where the first phase of the clinical trails were conducted with Professor Pender.

For the trail, a total of 10 patients received four doses of the treatment. Professor Michael Pender said:

Seven of these patients showed improvements. Without this treatment, we would have expected their symptoms to continue to get worse. Improvements ranged from reduced fatigue and improved productivity and quality of life to improvements in vision and mobility. Importantly, we found the treatment was safe and without serious side-effects. Our findings add to the mounting evidence that EBV infection plays a role in the development of MS.
Professor Michael Pender

Professor Rajiv Khanna acknowledged that it was the first time ever that such an immunotherapy was used to treat any autoimmune disease. He added,

We have already used these cellular immunotherapies to treat different types of cancer and viral infections. This clinical trial is a breakthrough because, for the first time, we have found these treatments are safe and have had positive improvements in an autoimmune disease. This trial opens the door to develop similar cellular immunotherapies for certain other autoimmune conditions. From this phase I trial, we have also discovered what cell properties produce the best results for the patients. We can now apply this knowledge to cellular immunotherapies for other diseases to try to ensure the best results for all patients.

Multiple Sclerosis or MS, is a condition which affects the central nervous system. Some of its symptoms include weakening of the limbs, memory loss, lack of coordination and balance among others.

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