Method Of Removing Therapeutic Protein From Body Discovered

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture
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Cleveland Clinic researchers have discovered a way to try to combat a rare, but serious, side effect of a drug used to treat multiple sclerosis (MS).

The monoclonal antibody natalizumab helps treat MS by inhibiting white blood cells from entering the brain and attacking nerves. A small number of patients taking natalizumab have suffered a rare, but serious, infection called PML (progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy).

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The study, which is being published in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, examined 12 MS patients taking natalizumab. Results of the study showed that researchers were able to “clean” natalizumab from the patient’s blood during a two-week period.

Results also showed that blood cleaning, or plasmaphereisis, can quickly remove natalizumab from the blood, allowing a patient’s immune system to re-establish itself, if necessary, to fight the PML infection.

“Our study shows that we can remove a therapeutic protein from the body and improve immune function, which may convert PML into a manageable complication of treatment with natalizumab,” said Robert Fox, M.D., Medical Director of Cleveland Clinic’s Mellen Center for Multiple Sclerosis Treatment and Research. “Emerging evidence suggests that heightened awareness and clinical vigilance have been successful in diagnosing PML earlier than ever before, and early discontinuation, coupled with plasma exchange, may improve patient outcomes.”

According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, MS is thought to affect more than 2.5 million people worldwide, but the cause of the disease is still unknown. Dr. Fox conducts research for Biogen Idec. He is also a paid speaker and consultant for the company.

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