Developing a novel drug for
Incubator Grant over one year in 2019 fully funded by the Trish MS Research Foundation
Investigator: Dr Steven Petratos
Monash University, Victoria
Co-investigator: Dr Kaylene Young
MS is an inflammatory disease which damages the myelin layer on nerve cells. This damage not only hinders the nerve impulses travelling down the nerve fibres, but also leaves the cells vulnerable to degeneration. It is thought that this nerve degeneration is a large contributor to progressive MS. Therefore, it is important that we discover ways to enhance the body’s natural abilities to regenerate its myelin layer (remyelinate nerve fibres). Dr Steven Petratos has been working on determining which molecules are responsible for nerve fibre damage, with the purpose of blocking the damage and protecting nerves.
Dr Petratos and his team have generated strong data indicating that a protein called MCT8 is vital for the survival of oligodendrocytes, the cells that are responsible for the creation of myelin. They have also developed a drug called DITPA, which can mimic the activity of the MCT8 protein. Their work so far suggests it may be possible to use this drug DIPTA, to enhance remyelination.
Scientists from Dr Petratos’ lab have shown that while myelin producing cells which lack MCT8 die, when they are treated with their DIPTA drug, they survive and go on to mature into functional myelin producing cells. Additionally, in areas of MS disease activity in the human brain, there appears to be a reduction in the amount of MCT8 that can be found. This suggests that this is an important protein in the disease process.
This project sets out to conduct further laboratory tests of this potential new treatment for progressive MS, by investigating this drug as a way of repairing damage to the myelin protecting nerve cells. If successful, the team will ultimately aim to take the drug forward for testing in clinical trials in people with MS.