MS Center studying drug that could promote myelin repair

October 26, 2016 James D. Bowen, M.D.

An antibody discovered in the blood of people with the disease mutiple myeloma is being studied by the Multiple Sclerosis Center at Swedish as a potential treatment for MS.

A research laboratory at the Mayo Clinic found that blood with high levels of this antibody promoted myelin repair in a mouse model. This antibody was cloned to create the medication currently known as rHIgM22.

MS destroys myelin, a protective sheath that coats nerve fibers and helps speed neurological transmissions. It‘s unknown how rHIgM22 promotes myelin repair, but it binds to cells involved in myelin repair in the brain.

Phase I of study

Acorda Therapeutics is studying rHIgM22 to see if it can promote myelin repair in people with MS. The medication is in the first stage of research, which is called a Phase I study. The purpose of Phase I studies is to determine the safety of a drug and which dose is most promising. The dose is then used in Phase II and Phase III studies to determine whether it is successful in treating patients.

The Swedish MS Center participated in the intial Phase I study of rHIgM22. However, the FDA has asked for additional research to assure that the drug is safe during acute MS attacks, before moving on to Phase II and III studies.

MS patients with attacks to be studied

The latest Phase I research study is looking at people who are taking the drug while also having MS attacks or enhanced lesions on brain MRIs. The Swedish MS Center also is participating in this Phase I study. Participants will  complete five days of IV steroid and then receive the study medication at an inpatient facility.

This study should give us a better understanding of how the drug performs during an MS attack, and will help with selection of the dose to be used in the Phase II study.

The MS Center currently has 33 active research studies. Patients interested in the rHIgM22 study, known as ACORDA IM 22-MS 1033, or any other studies can contact the MS Center research department at 206-320-2647.

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