MS wonder drug fails at the first hurdle

The new wonder drug against MS (multiple sclerosis) is actually making the disease worse.

The drug, known as TEPP-46, has failed badly in animal tests, one of the earliest stages for drug approval. It caused the inflammation in the spinal cord—one of the characteristics of MS—to move into the brain, and also harmed the immune system’s ‘killer’ T-cells.

TEPP-46 is a new generation of MS drugs that wouldn’t block the immune system’s ability to fight infections, one of the most serious side effects of the current generation. The drugs were developed to fight cancer, but researchers were excited by the possibility they could also treat MS as they target the way cells generate energy.

Researchers from the University of Virginia Health System say that other researchers need to tread carefully as they test TEPP-46. “It was not at all what we expected. The take-home message is that we should be very careful and do more fundamental research before we propose to take this to clinical trials (involving people),” said lead researcher Alban Gaultier.

(Source: Science Signaling, 2020; 13: eaay0217)