MS is a chronic incurable condition marked by attacks that bring gradual deterioration in the patient's health. About 23,000 people are affected in Australia and 2.5 million worldwide. It is characterized by auto-reactive T cells that induce demyelination and neuronal degradation.
An international research team has demonstrated that a new plant-derived drug can block the progression of multiple sclerosis (MS). The new drug -- named T20K -- was extracted from a traditional medicinal plant, the Oldenlandia affinis.
The circular plant peptide kalata B1 was shown previously to silence T-cell proliferation in vitro in an IL-2–dependent mechanism. Owing to this promising effect, authors in the journal PNAS aimed to determine in vivo activity of the cyclotide [T20K]kalata B1 using the MS mouse model experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE).
Treatment of mice with the cyclotide resulted in a significant delay and diminished symptoms of EAE by oral administration. Cyclotide application substantially impeded disease progression and did not exhibit adverse effects. Inhibition of lymphocyte proliferation and the reduction of proinflammatory cytokines, in particular IL-2, distinguish the cyclotide from other marketed drugs.
The new drug is expected to be taken by mouth, in contrast to some current MS treatments where patients need to have frequent injections.
"Phase one clinical trials could begin as early as 2018," said the author. "Licences have been assigned to Cyxone, a company established last year to develop this new class of drugs for the treatment of autoimmune diseases.