Biochemist: a cure for multiple sclerosis will appear in 2-3 years

Biochemist: a cure for multiple sclerosis will appear in 2-3 years© Photo: courtesy of the press service of the IBCH RAS

Alex Belogurov, senior researcher, Institute of Bioorganic chemistry, Russian Academy of Sciences, told RIA of «news» about a very promising cure for multiple sclerosis, created in Russia, and shared his thoughts on how the development of such drugs brings us to the disclosure of the reasons for the development of this serious disease.

Multiple sclerosis is a disease of the nervous system in which immune cells begin to attack sheath of nerve fibers, called myelin. Without myelin the nerves conduct the signal worse and begin to «close», which leads to different consequences from mild numbness in limbs to paralysis or blindness. According to who statistics, over 2.3 million people suffer from this disease, effective treatments not yet invented.

In June of this year, scientists have made the first step to solving this problem, creating a cure for multiple sclerosis and verifying it on volunteers. It is a collection of microscopic beads of medication surrounded by «nanorana» of synthetic fat molecules, which gradually disintegrate in contact with the body. The remedy consists of fragments of myelin, which «teach» the immune system to attack nerve cells.

At the end of last week the Presidium of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow hosted the first scientific conference devoted to multiple sclerosis and other autoimmune diseases. Speaking at her Belogurov and several other scientists told about the progress in the development of this drug and the study of other immunological problems that affect the nervous system and other organs of the body.

— I have no medical education, and quite difficult to answer this question. We deal mainly with fundamental aspects of the biochemical basis of the occurrence of multiple sclerosis. Of course, contact with the physicians there, but clinical practice we don’t spend a lot of time. However, in my opinion, the vast majority of my fellow physicians are qualified for the world level.

— This summer you spoke about the creation of a new drug for MS treatment with liposome and tested it on volunteers. Is there any progress in a clinical trial, are interested in whether it is pharmaceutical companies and patients can buy the medicine?

— Currently preparations are underway for the next phase of clinical trials. Of course, interest in the drug is present, and we hope that it will increase many times in the future in case of success of clinical trials. Under the most favorable scenario the drug could be on sale in two to three years.

Besides liposomes, there are other approaches for the treatment of multiple sclerosis – other types of nanoparticles, monoclonal antibodies, stem cells and even the vitamin D. How promising these methods of struggle with multiple sclerosis, inferior whether they are liposomes?

— The use of monoclonal antibodies, for example, the most famous of Rituximab often leads to serious complications. The reason for this is the systemic oppression of immune system. These drugs are successfully used in the treatment of malignancies, but in this case there is a direct threat to the life of the patient and the account goes on for months.

The use of stem cells is not yet widespread because of nonrepeatable clinical effect. A lack of vitamin D correlate with risk of multiple sclerosis, but rather, prevention of the disease than its treatment. Actively and successfully applied, glatiramer acetate (Copaxone) and interferon-beta. I stress that it is too early to compare the efficiency of our product with existing solutions.

What can I say – our drug is well tolerated by patients. Results of clinical studies the first phase, by definition, are unable to give an understanding of the effectiveness of the drug. The first changes the condition of patients with this form of treatment become visible not earlier than 6 months after the start of treatment. However, we have seen stabilizing of patients taking our drug, which has not been achieved by other means.

— It is known that the development of multiple sclerosis leads to sleep problems, fatigue and many other unpleasant things – relieve medications, including your liposomes, these effects of multiple sclerosis?

— Of course. First, what is the aim of any drug for the treatment of multiple sclerosis, including ours, is to improve the quality of life of patients.

— It is not clear what the reasons for developing this disease. Will the creation of drugs from multiple sclerosis to understand what causes the immune system to attack the membrane of neurons?

— Quite true, etiology (causes of development – ed.) of multiple sclerosis still remains a mystery. At the moment, it is obvious that the disease is multifactorial. In other words, prior to the occurrence of multiple sclerosis occurs several events, such as viral diseases, vitamin D deficiency, increased permeability of the blood brain barrier, failure of negative selection of lymphocytes and uncontrolled increase in the tone of the immune system.

A considerable role is played by genetic predisposition. Of course, the creation of new-generation drug for the treatment of multiple sclerosis requires a deep understanding of the mechanisms underlying the emergence and further development of multiple sclerosis. Our preparation has just such a story, as it was created based on several fundamental discoveries related to the behavior of B-cells of the immune system with the appearance of multiple sclerosis.

— When you have submitted your design, you talked about addressing «social and economic problems» – is there support from the state in this respect, and prevent to do it overseas pharmaceutical companies wishing to promote their medications from multiple sclerosis in the Russian market?

We definitely feel the interest and support of our developments by state agencies, primarily the Ministry of education and science of the Russian Federation and the Russian science Foundation. Modern science is very costly and it is encouraging to note that public funding allows you to do many interesting and useful things in this direction.

It should be noted that the domestic pharmaceuticals industry is not left behind, and our preparation would never have seen the light without the company «pharmsynthez», which bears the main financial burden in terms of clinical trials of the drug. If we have ill-wishers of the major players of the pharmaceutical business? I’d like to believe that soon there will be, because it would mean that we are on the right track.

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