One teenager’s problem becomes another man’s cure. Two weeks ago, BioNews Texas‘ Michael Nace reported on Innate Immunotherapeutic’s funding for Phase 2B drug trials of MIS416, an acne bacteria-derived drug for the treatment of Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis (SPMS). While most other drugs in competitors’ pipelines are man-made chemicals aimed to treat the symptoms of early-stage MS, MIS416 is a microparticle from processed Propionibacterium acnes designed to illicit an immune reaction against a patient’s MS.
Although the immune response from MIS416 holds potential to treat other autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes, for now the $10 million, 100-patient large drug trial will build upon the successes of completed Phase 1B/2A trials conducted in New Zealand. Eight of the ten patients treated saw improvement in their MS-related symptoms.
One of these success stories comes from a man who used to suffer from terrible, debilitating pain associated with Multiple Sclerosis. Stephen Mudgway, who previously required six different medicines to deal with symptoms, now only takes one pill a day in conjunction with a weekly dose of MIS416. “I enjoy life,” he said, now that he can accomplish tasks such as transferring himself from his wheelchair to his bed, where he sleeps for eight hours a night rather than the twenty he used to require in order to have enough energy for daily activities. Mudgway had a six-month remission period with the end of the three-month trial that involved weekly injections of the bacterial-derived medicine into his veins; he is back to a state of improvement due to resumption of treatment on compassionate grounds.
Researchers are convinced that Multiple Sclerosis, which originates from an attack of the myelin sheath around neurons, contains an autoimmune component, which might be why MIS416 is effective. It is possible that the immune response to the bacteria shifts the body’s defenses from self-destruction of the myelin sheath to a productive attack on the invading bacteria. Injections of two types of bacteria into a patient’s system “give the body an opportunity to rebalance and repair,” said Dr. Gillian Webster, who heads the development team. “The acute pain goes, the vision improves, muscle strength improves. There is also a definite delay in progression.” Unfortunately, the drug does not have the power to help heal the body, meaning that lost mobility resulting from axonal scarring, rather than pain, will not be regained. However, for the almost 25,000 Australians who have Multiple sclerosis, an effective MIS416 trial may mean a resolution to the symptoms of MS.