Plant Extract May Lead to New Treatments for Multiple Sclerosis

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Drug produced by medicinal plant Oldenlandia affinis may block the progression of multiple sclerosis.

A drug extracted from the medicinal plant Oldenlandia affinis can block the progression of multiple sclerosis (MS) and was successful in animal models, according to findings published in the journal PNAS.

An international team of researchers developed the oral drug named T20K from the O. affinis plant extract. More specifically, the drug comes from a synthesized plant peptide from the cyclotide drug class.

The researchers reported success in an animal model — normal clinical MS symptoms were stopped – and added that there are patent applications filed in several countries.

“Licences have been assigned to Cyxone, a company established last year to develop this new class of drugs for the treatment of autoimmune diseases,” University of Queensland researcher Christian Gruber, PhD, explained in a press release. “Cyxone’s immediate focus is on bringing T20K through the pre clinical program required for delivering a safe, orally active drug.”

The statement continued to explain that cyclotides are common among a wide variety of plants and demonstrate “significant potential” for auto immune disease treatment.

Gruber added that the T20K peptides “exhibit extraordinary stability and chemical features that are ideally what you want in an oral drug candidate.”

Current multiple sclerosis therapies include frequent injections, while T20K therapy is expected to be taken orally. In their abstract, the study authors noted that oral active drugs such as fingolimod have been downplayed over their safety concerns.

“Consequently, there is a demand for novel, especially orally active therapeutics,” the authors noted of their reason for exploring nature derived extract therapies. “Nature offers an abundance of compounds for drug discovery.”

The researchers believe phase I clinical trials could begin as early as 2018.

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