Dr. Ueli Nachbur, Associate Professor John Silke, Associate Professor Guillaume Lessene, Professor Andrew Lew and colleagues at Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Australia have developed an anti-inflammatory molecule that stops the progression of multiple sclerosis 50 percent of the time. The drug is applicable to all inflammatory diseases.
The drug-like molecule called WEHI-345 was developed to prevent the excessive release of hormones called cytokines in inflammatory disease. Cytokine release is a normal response to disease. Excessive release of cytokines triggers a response that damages the human body. Multiple sclerosis is an inflammatory disease that causes the destruction of some nerve tissues.
The researcher tested WEHI-345 in people that had presented symptoms of multiple sclerosis for the first time. The progress of multiple sclerosis was stopped in 50 percent of the people that took the drug. The researchers plan to refine their development to be more specific to multiple sclerosis and potentially more efficient in stopping the progress of the disease.
Drugs similar to WEHI-345 can be tailored to other inflammatory disease like arthritis, diabetes, atherosclerosis, and even hay fever. The researchers stress that the drug is not a cure for multiple sclerosis or any other disease. The drug prevents a protein from signaling the excessive release of cytokines that is common in all inflammatory diseases.
This is the first drug developed that halts the progression of multiple sclerosis in a significant proportion of people that took the drug. Stopping the progression of the disease is not a cure but it is the most effective treatment developed to date. Any side effects of the drug were not reported as significant but further clinical trials are planned before the drug can be available to the public.