Immunosuppression with FTY720 is insufficient to prevent secondary progressive neurodegeneration in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis.

This study shows that in an animal model of advanced secondary progressive MS the drug FTY720 or Fingolimod is not capable of preventing or delaying the progression of disability independently of its effects on inflammation. The investigators allowed the animals to enter the progressive phase of the disease, before shutting down autoimmune driven inflammation by inducing immune tolerance (a fancy word for switching off the immune system’s attack on the brain and spinal cord) before starting the therapy.

“Does this mean that Fingolimod is not neuroprotective? No it does not, it only shows that in this particular setting that Fingolimod is not effective. Can I remind you that modifying this phase of the disease course remains the holy grail in MS therapeutics, i.e. modifying the progressive phase of MS after inflammation has been switched off with potent anti-inflammatory therapies. This is why we are concentrating so much of or time and effort on developing neuroprotective treatments.”

Al-Izki et al. Mult Scler. 2011 Apr 1. [Epub ahead of print]

Declaration of a conflict of interest: this study was supported by Novartis and it was done by our group.

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