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Multiple Sclerosis Pipeline Drug: Laquinimod

October 12, 2016

The experimental therapy laquinimod was seen to prevent the start of harmful immune responses and to disrupt the progression of multiple sclerosis (MS) in a mouse model of the disease. This finding may be especially promising, as the treatment is being developed for people with both relapsing MS and its rarer progressive form, for which no treatment currently exists.

”We found that laquinimod treatment not only prevented spontaneous MS but also was successful when treatment was initiated after mice developed paralysis,” the researchers wrote in their study, “Treatment of spontaneous EAE by laquinimod reduces Tfh, B cell aggregates, and disease progression,” published in the journal Neurology.

Laquinimod is a novel oral compound with immunomodulatory properties that is being developed by Active Biotech and Teva to treat both forms of MS and Huntington’s disease. The drug has shown promising results in two phase 3 clinical trials, and is currently being tested in another Phase 3 trial in relapsing MS patients and in a Phase 2 trial in primary progressive MS patients. But the mechanisms behind its effects are not well understood.

Researchers studied a mice model of MS, and treated the animals daily with either laquinimod in drinking water or with pure water. After 10 days of treatment, the number of immune T-cells, B-cells, and antibodies in the mice were examined.

Results showed that only 29 percent of the laquinimod-treated mice developed MS, compared to 58 percent in the untreated group. In addition, when the team treated mice that had already developed paralysis, laquinimod was seen to disrupt disease progression. These results indicate that laquinimod may work to help prevent MS development and be beneficial in progressive MS — a more advanced stage of the disease.

The team also identified some possible mechanisms of action of laquinimod in MS. In treated mice, researchers observed:

  • A 96 percent reduction in harmful clusters of B-cells — clusters only seen in patients with progressive MS.
  • An almost 50 percent reduction in dendritic cells that help to create special T-cells, which in turn help B-cells to survive, and an almost 50 percent reduction in these particular T-cells.
  • A 60 percent reduction in harmful antibodies.
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