A new clinical trial for the first time in the world of a cellular immunotherapy for multiple sclerosis (MS) has shown evidence of improving symptoms and quality of life for a large number of patients suffering from this condition. The treatment particularly targets the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), all thanks to professor Michael Pender, a researcher from University of Queensland and Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital (RBWH).
Professor Pender had stated long back in 2003 that multiple sclerosis was the result of accumulation of EBV infected cells in the brain and that a therapy targeting EBV could stop the spread and progression of disease. The study involved five patients suffering from secondary progressive MS and another five suffering from primary progressive MS receiving four doses of the cellular immunotherapy treatment at the RBWH.
Professor Pender was quoted to have said: “Seven of these patients showed improvements. Without this treatment, we would have expected their symptoms to continue to get worse. Improvements ranged from reduced fatigue and improved productivity and quality of life to improvements in vision and mobility. Importantly, we found the treatment was safe and without serious side-effects. Our findings add to the mounting evidence that EBV infection plays a role in the development of MS.”
Professor Rajiv Khanna from QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute who has developed the cellular immunotherapy along with his team, was quoted to have said: “It is the first time a T cell immunotherapy had been used to treat an autoimmune disease. We have already used these cellular immunotherapies to treat different types of cancer and viral infections.
“This clinical trial is a breakthrough because, for the first time, we have found these treatments are safe and have had positive improvements in an autoimmune disease. This trial opens the door to develop similar cellular immunotherapies for certain other autoimmune conditions. From this phase I trial, we have also discovered what cell properties produce the best results for the patients. We can now apply this knowledge to cellular immunotherapies for other diseases to try to ensure the best results for all patients,” he reportedly added.
Published: November 21, 2018 12:24 pm