Novel Multiple Sclerosis Drug May Block Progression

Laquinimod provides hope for inhibiting aggressive multiple sclerosis.

The experimental drug laquinimod may prevent or reduce the progression of multiple sclerosis (MS), according to new findings published in Neurology, Neuroimmunology & Neuroinflammation.

“These results are promising because they provide hope for people with aggressive MS, an advanced version of the disease for which there is currently no treatment,” said study author Scott Zamvil, MD, PhD.

In healthy individuals, T and B cells help the body develop immunity to prevent infection, but in patients with MS, the cells help create antibodies that attack and destroy myelin.

In the study, researchers used mice who developed a spontaneous form of MS, administered either daily oral laquinimod or placebo. Researchers then examined the number of T cells and B cells present.

The results of one study involving 50 mice showed that only 29% of mice given laquinimod developed MS, compared with 58% given placebo. Furthermore, there was a 96% reduction in meningeal B cell aggregates, which are harmful clusters of B cells found only in individuals with progressive MS.

In a second study involving 22 mice, researchers observed a reduction in MS progression after mice that developed paralysis were given laquinimod. When they compared it with the control, the mice that were given the drug showed a 49% reduction in dendritic cells, which help create T follicular helper cells, and a 46% reduction in T cells. Furthermore, there was a 60% reduction in harmful antibodies.

“The study has given us more insight into how laquinimod works,” Zamvil said. “But because this was an animal study, more research needs to be done before we know if it could have similar results in people.”