May 29, 2002
Swedish biotech firm Medivir AB said on Wednesday it and its partner Peptimmune had found a possible drug to combat multiple sclerosis, sending shares in Medivir up six percent.
Tests on mice, which were given an inhibitor of the enzyme Cathepsin S, showed that the development of the disease was suppressed, the company's Chief Financial Officer, Rein Piir, told Reuters.
"In our tests it turned out that we affected the illness in the sense that it was suppressed," Piir said.
"From what I know, we are the first company that has been able to show this and if we can get a patent for it, we're in a pretty strong position."
Medivir together with Peptimmune, which is owned by U.S. Genzyme Corporation, has a joint research programme on Cathepsin S inhibitors that may prevent auto-immune disorders.
The companies have earlier announced that tests on mice had prevented the development of rheumatoid arthritis.
"The results build on previously reported data from an animal model of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) suggesting that an inhibitor of Cathepsin S offers a novel approach to the treatment of both MS and RA," Medivir said in a press release.
Piir said the research would now focus on finding a candidate drug - a molecule which is suitable for developing a drug from the Cathepsin S inhibitors.
It is only after a candidate drug has been selected that tests on humans
can start, and drug development normally goes on for several years after
Copyright 2002, Reuters News Service