Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Grey Matter (5) & B Cells: Baminercept in SPMS

The immune system forms and maintains the ectopic B-cell follicles in the brain & spinal cord by producing a cocktail of immune messengers called cytokines. One of these messengers is called lymphotoxin; if you inhibit or neutralise lymphotoxin you dissolve B-cell follicles. We were very excited when Biogen-Idec annoucned they were going to do a trial in SPMS with an inhibitor of lymphotoxin called Baminercept. This drug is very clever indeed; it is a soluble form of the lymphotoxin receptor that mops up lymphotoxin and dissolves germinal centers:
























For the good news click here to see  the trial design: <baminercept SPMS trial>

The bad news, particularly for PwSPMS, Biogen-Idec pulled the plug on the trial before the first patient was dosed. 

"The fact that this trial is not going ahead is very disappointing. The ectopic B cell follicles are a very exciting and rational drug target in progressive MS. If anybody knows the reason why Biogen-Idec stopped the trial and are willing to share this information with us please post a comment?"


9 comments:

  1. Do you have contact with anyone in Biogen who can enlighten you as to why the study was stopped? I can answer my own question as I'm sure that if you did, you would have asked them!Disappointing, though

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  2. Wow Prof G, you are meant to be a superstar neurologist who flies the world attending MS conventions, seminars and consultations. I would have thought a man like you would have George Scangos and John Cox’s numbers on speed dial ;-)

    While I’m not sure why they’ve pulled the plug on this treatment, an important factor may be the fact that Biogen Idec’s stock has hit a 52-week low of $45.96 from a 52-week high of $106.99. They have been on a downward monetary slope for a while and that may have serious consequences for a host of developing novel therapies for multiple sclerosis they are pushing.

    Biogen Idec have some seriously promising treatments in the pipeline for multiple sclerosis, the most exciting being anti-lingo-1. I can’t think of a more formidable pharmaceutical company making treatments for MS than Biogen Idec.

    This is where I think people like you and Tim Coetzee should make companies like Biogen Idec answerable for halting worthwhile studies that could make productive gains for MS sufferers. I understand that the pharmas don’t really answer to anyone but they need you guys as much as what you need them.

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  3. They gave up on this trial for RA because results weren't great.

    Why not contact Biogen and say that you will organise a Phase II trial - they contribute half the cost and your team fund the other half. If successful some arrangement to share future income with Biogen. Possible funders:


    - National MS Society
    - J K Rowling
    - A guy from your SA University who recently became a billionaire (mining company)

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  4. Re funding: it a complex issue and will need to be taken up by the MS community. I am very involved with trying to get our own neuroprotective trial in progressive MS funded and have a programme planned to try and treat MS with anti-EBV agent. I would welcome being introduced to JK Rowling or any other philanthropist who would willing to prime or fund our work.

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  5. Prof G,

    Write a nice letter to:

    Ivan Glasenberg (the chief executive of Glencore, may be around $10bn richer after the world's largest commodity trader floats).

    He is South African and went to your old university. So you have two good conenctions already!

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  6. What will the market value of Biogen be when BG-12 hits the market? Surely the fairly good effectiveness and very good safety profile of this oral drug will make it a first call rather than the standard DMT's (depending on price of course).

    Have you seen the claim on the MSRC website that MS may be a biomechanical disease as shown by some hi-tech MRI imaging? (not CCSVI)?

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  7. Remember these are B cells in the brain and so the therapeutic molecules have to get there.

    In progressive MS there is less evidence of blood brain barrier problems (gadolinium enhancing lesions) and so it will be difficult to get these humungous proteins (anti-Lingo, Baminercept)
    into the brain (they wouldn't get into brain normally), unless they are delivered into the brain to do their job. Current successful antibodies in relapsing MS don't need to get into brain to do most of their job. For progressive MS one must thing the story is different and things do need to get into the brain. Therefore unless they show adequate CNS penetration the drugs will fail.

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  8. Hello,

    I know this is off topic, but are the studies that you post links to on the left-hand side of this blog open to participants outside of the UK?

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  9. Re: "I know this is off topic, but are the studies that you post links to on the left-hand side of this blog open to participants outside of the UK?"

    Yes, they are! Please help if you can. The only one you can't participate in is the endophenotype study.

    Thank you for offering.

    ReplyDelete

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