Authors: Lauren Pulling, Future Science Group
At the recent American Academy of Neurology’s Annual Meeting (Boston, MA, USA, 22–28 April 2017), Michael Pender (University of Queensland, Australia) presented promising interim findings from a Phase 1 study investigating a novel treatment for multiple sclerosis (MS), which targets the relationship between this neurodegenerative disease and Epstein–Barr virus.
In this interview, carried out by our sister-site Neuro Central, Dr Pender discusses the relationship between MS and the Epstein–Barr virus; a link that has been observed in recent studies, and which forms the basis of this most recent clinical trial. In the Phase I study, researchers removed the T cells from six patients with progressive MS, stimulated the T cells to increase their ability to recognize and destroy Epstein–Barr virus-infected B cells, and the injected these T cells in infusions every 2 weeks over a 6-week period. At this interim point, three participants have showed improvement, with one showing “striking improvement”. In the interview, Dr Pender, lead researcher of the trial, discusses the key findings of the trial, and the next steps following these exciting developments.
You can find further information on the relationship between MS and Epstein-Barr virus in the publications below:
- Pender MP. Infection of autoreactive B lymphocytes with EBV, causing chronic autoimmune diseases. Trends Immunol., 24(11), 584–588 (2003).
- Pender MP. The essential role of Epstein-Barr virus in the pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis. Neuroscientist 17(4), 351–367 (2011).
- Pender MP, Csurhes PA, Pfluger CMM, Burrows SR. Deficiency of CD8+ effector memory T cells is an early and persistent feature of multiple sclerosis. Scler. J. 20(14), 1825–1832 (2014).
- Pender MP, Burrows SR. Epstein–Barr virus and multiple sclerosis: potential opportunities for immunotherapy. Transl. Immunology 3, e27 (2014).
- Pender MP, Csurhes PA, Burrows JM, Burrow SR. Defective T-cell control of Epstein–Barr virus infection in multiple sclerosis. Transl. Immunology 6, e126 (2017).