Thursday, April 17, 2008
13 Apr 2008
A potential treatment for multiple sclerosis (MS), developed by University of Greenwich in association with Kings College, London, has begun clinical trials.
The life sciences company BTG plc, which has licensed the research, is running the trials on a new compound, known as BGC20-0134.
Dr Laurence Harbige and Dr Mike Leach, from the Biomedical & Drug Discovery Research Group in the University of Greenwich School of Science, developed the new treatment following many years of research.
Dr Laurence Harbige explains: "Although the cause of multiple sclerosis is unknown, there is strong evidence that it involves the regulation of the immune system through molecules in our bodies called cytokines. In MS, the balance of these cytokines is altered, leading to inflammation in the brain which can result in serious disability."
Dr Mike Leach adds: "This new treatment should encourage the immune system to rebalance itself, by inhibiting the production of inflammatory cytokines while promoting the production of helpful anti-inflammatory ones."
These initial trials, in volunteers, will look at how the new treatment works in the body and whether it leads to an increase in the helpful cytokines. A pilot study of a prototype treatment developed by the University of Greenwich team, which is related to this compound, has already shown promising results. It demonstrated clinical benefits in patients with a common form of multiple sclerosis, called relapsing-remitting. It led to decreases in relapse rates, disability and pain, along with improvements in quality of life. Preclinical research on the new compound, BGC20-0134, indicates that it may be three times as potent as this prototype.
Professor Tom Barnes, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research & Enterprise at the University of Greenwich, congratulates the team behind the discovery: "It is very good news that this research is now in clinical trials. Our university aims to carry out work which is useful to society and this discovery is a classic example of that. It highlights the excellence of the research staff at Greenwich and also the business orientation of the university, through this partnership with BTG plc. Drs Harbige and Leach are to be congratulated on this important milestone."
Louise Makin, BTG's Chief Executive Officer, comments: "The effective treatment of multiple sclerosis remains a significant unmet need. We are pleased to have started clinical development of BGC20-0134, which has the potential to address different forms of the disease and has the advantage of being an oral product."
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