May 28, 2002
Sara M. Bernstein
Research Programs Department
Douglas L. Feinstein, PhD (University of Illinois, Chicago) and colleagues successfully prevented and improved EAE, an MS-like disease in mice, using oral compounds known as “PPAR-gamma ligands,” some of which are currently used to treat diabetes. This study, reported in the June 2002 issue of Annals of Neurology, was supported in part by a research grant from the National MS Society and could lead the way to a new class of agents that might prove useful in treating MS.
PPAR-gamma ligands attach to a specific receptor (a molecular docking site), called PPAR-gamma, and modulate its anti-immune activity. In MS, immune activity causes damage to myelin, the substance that insulates nerve fibers, along with nerve fibers themselves. Dr. Feinstein tested three different types of PPAR-gamma ligands, including ones that are currently being used to treat Type II diabetes. The drugs reduced the incidence and severity of both chronic and relapsing EAE, and also decreased immune-system activity and damage to myelin.
These findings suggest that PPAR-gamma ligands may have potential for
benefiting MS. Clinical trials are needed to confirm their safety and effectiveness
in people with this disease.
© 2002 The National Multiple Sclerosis Society