Text Size: a  |   a 

Nasal Solution Made of 'Molecular Soup' Protects Eye Neurons in MS Mice with Optic Neuritis

February 1, 2017

A treatment delivered as a nasal solution helped to preserve eye neurons and improve eyesight in a mouse model of multiple sclerosis (MS), a recent study demonstrated — suggesting that it may be possible to deliver drugs that target the brain in this noninvasive way.

But nasal administration is not the only novelty of this treatment. The drug, developed by Noveome Biotherapeutics, is virtually a molecular soup, a complex solution secreted by cells derived from the membrane that covers an embryo. This soup, called a secretome, has been shown to have powerful wound-healing properties that, it turns out, are also active within the brain.

“We believe this is the first demonstration of a potentially successful therapeutic treatment of the optic nerve using intranasal delivery of large molecular weight biomolecules,” Larry Brown, ScD, chief scientific officer of Noveome, said in a press release.

The study, “Intranasal Delivery of a Novel Amnion Cell Secretome Prevents Neuronal Damage and Preserves Function in a Mouse Multiple Sclerosis Model,” was published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Noveome worked with researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania to test the treatment in mice with experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, a common MS mouse model.

One of the main features of these mice, mirrored in patients, is the presence of optic neuritis. This inflammation and demyelination of retinal ganglion cells in the optic nerve eventually leads to neuron death and eyesight diminution and loss.

Experiments showed that the treatment, called ST266, reached the central nervous system within 30 minutes of nasal administration. The compound was found in higher concentration in the eye and optic nerve than in the brain, indicating that it is particularly suitable for treating optic neuritis.

When researchers treated mice in early stages of optic neuritis, the treatment reduced the migration of inflammatory cells into the optic nerve, lowered the extent of demyelination, and reduced the loss of retinal ganglion cells.