Anti-Lingo-1 (Biogen) – A New MS Therapy?

I have had my eye on a new medication/therapy being worked on by Biogen Idec (the makers of Tysabri, Avonex, Rituxan, Tecfidera, and Fampyra) that is currently being called Anti-Lingo-1. This medication caught my attention because it’s goal is to remyelinate (rebuild the protective layer of fat called myelin that insulates our nerves but are attacked by Multiple Sclerosis) nerves in the central nervous system (CNS). Pretty much all therapies so far have taken the approach of trying to prevent antibodies from destroying myelin in the first place but Anti-Lingo-1 aims to create new myelin to replenish the myelin that has been destroyed by MS. Not only should this help slow down or stop disease progression but this will hopefully even reverse some of the effects of MS, for example, it could heal the more “permanent” symptoms many of us with MS are stuck with.

Lingo-1 is a protein that our bodies produce as we age which inhibits the production of myelin. So knowing the name “Anti-Lingo-1” makes more sense regarding what the therapy does. This therapy stops (anti) the production of Lingo-1 so that the body can actually remyelinate nerves and repair the damage that MS does to the CNS. This is what caught my interest; I always thought the logical thing to do (regarding treatment) was to find a way to produce myelin. From time to time I would check out the Myelin Repair Foundation and I was even looking into stem cell therapy at one point. I think of it like this; if there is a leak in your roof sure, you can set a bucket under it to catch the water but that does not address the problem. You still have a leak, the bucket only addresses the damage the problem causes. Wouldn’t it be a better idea to fix the actual leak at the source to prevent further damage? I sort of feel like MS therapies have always been a “bucket solution” and that there must be something to fix the problem one step closer to the root cause. If this is not it I think it’s definitely a step in the right direction.

So what are the clinical trials saying? Well the last results I read about were published around early April this year (2015) and seem to look pretty promising. They used a group of 82 patients presenting with acute optic neuritis who all received a round of high dose steroids. Then the group was split in two; half the patients received Anti-Lingo-1 and the other half received a placebo. The group who received Anti-Lingo-1 showed significant nerve repair compared to the placebo group; as much as 34% greater after 6 months and 41% greater after 8 months. Biogen just finished the second of the three trials necessary for FDA approval.

So here is what is fascinating to me; if this treatment is approved we will finally have (or be close to having) something that not only slows down or stops disease progression but also reverses it, which may give people back some of what MS (or other demyelinating diseases) has taken away. With such high hopes and expectations I am really unsure why people are not talking about this like they have when other medications were in the approval process. Sure the idea of only having to take a pill was great but now we are talking about the idea of possibly reversing some of the damage MS has done! This really excites me and I look forward to the publication of more information. I am unsure if this will be an injection, infusion or an oral medication but when they talked about the clinical trial tests they did say it was administered every 4 weeks until 6 doses had been given. All I know is that if this medication can deliver what it is shooting for I would not care how it is administered or how often.

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