Monash University investigators are in pursuit for a new treatment for multiple sclerosis (MS) that they believe may actually reverse effects of the disease on the brain. They are exploring the use of an experimental drug called Dipta. During preclinical research on mice, they found that paralyzed mice were able to actually walk again.
Now, according to several Australian news sources including 7NEWS, the Melbourne-based team, led by Dr. Steve Petratos, needs to secure $2 million for clinical trials. After all, the stakes are big. There is no cure for MS. Nearly 1 million people are afflicted with MS in the United States and about 25,600 in Australia.
Dr Steven Petratos told 7NEWS, “We don’t have any drugs that are available at the moment that can enhance the repair mechanisms that this drug is purported to do.”
Dr. Petratos and team have generated strong data indicating that a protein called MCT8 is vital for the survival of oligodendrocytes, the cells that are responsible for the creation of myelin. They have also developed a drug called DIPTA, which can mimic the activity of the MCT8 protein. Their work to date suggests that it may be possible to use DIPTA to enhance remyelination. This work is reported in MS Research Australia’s website.
For example, this team Down Under has demonstrated that while myelin producing cells which lack MCT8 die, when they are treated with their DIPTA drug, they survive and go on to mature into functional myelin producing cells. Moreover, in areas of MS disease activity in the human brain, they have noticed what appears to be a reduction in the amount of MCT8 that can be observed. Could this possibly suggest that this protein is correlated with the MS disease process?
Because of these observations, the preclinical research study team in Melbourne set out to conduct further laboratory testing of this new possible treatment for progressive MS, by investigating this drug as a means of repairing damage to the myelin protecting nerve cells. The team believes they have demonstrated enough positive preclinical data to move forward with a clinical trial.
As reported in MS Research Australia website, the team examined the levels of thyroid hormone transporter, MCT8, during mouse development and adulthood and how it is affected in immune cells and oligodendrocytes (the cells that make myelin) in models of demyelination. They also investigated levels of MCT8 in human brain tissue with neurodegeneration disorders. Their research revealed that MCT8 levels are maintained in oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs) throughout mouse development which implies it could play a role in maintenance. They observed that its levels are substantially increased in immune cells and decreased in oligodendrocytes in the models of MS.
Moreover, they have demonstrated that thyroid hormone signaling is reduced in the models of demyelination and altered human brain tissue with neurodegenerative disorders. They suggest that thyroid hormones transporters are necessary for cellular maintenance during moue brain development, which is altered in adult demyelinating conditions. The latest research had the Melbourne-based team test DIPTA in these models of demyelination, and the findings offer a new platform for investigation of novel interventions to limit further degeneration and promote remyelination in conditions such as progressive MS.
Dr Steven Petratos, Senior Lecturer, Department of Neuroscience, Monash University
Call to Action: This could be an exciting breakthrough for those combating MS that TrialSite News will monitor. Interested in keeping updated? Sign up for the daily newsletter.