A New BioTech Research Race Is Focused On Improving Life For MS Patients

When the world is focused on a global pandemic no one saw coming four years ago, the attention given to escalating diseases with no known cure can be hidden from the public consciousness.

This is perhaps the case with multiple sclerosis (MS), an immune-mediated disease affecting the central nervous system, which according to the National Institutes of Health, continues to grow.

The estimated number of people with MS worldwide increased from ~2.1 million in 2013 to 2.8 million in 2020, with the global prevalence at almost 36 per 100,000 people.

The increased number of cases has subsequently increased the demand for effective diagnosis and treatment of multiple sclerosis. A recent Fortune Business Insights report said the global multiple sclerosis drugs market size was valued at $23.68 billion in 2021 and is projected to grow to $33.17 billion by 2029.

Rising MS Numbers Spur Increased Research

As companies launch new products and research, government initiatives are projected to improve the accessibility of care and treatment. The rising MS numbers are believed to be the primary catalyst in market expansion. Active biotech companies in the MS market today include Pasithea Therapeutics Corp. KTTA, BioNTech SE BNTX and SIGA Technologies Inc. SIGA and Moderna Inc. MRNA, among others.

Some are finding new research showing that an mRNA vaccine might also work in multiple sclerosis (MS). BioNTech and scientists at the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz hypothesized that an mRNA vaccine could work in a targeted fashion to help the immune system tolerate specific MS-related proteins without compromising normal immune function.

The BioNTech team developed an mRNA candidate wrapping the genetic information coding for MS-causing self-antigens in fatty substances. A similar lipid nanoparticle is used in Comirnaty to protect the COVID-19 mRNA material until it reaches target cells, where it produces the antigen protein. The results were published in the journal Science.

Pasithea Reports Progress In Pursuit Of MS Vaccine Development

Pasithea, a biotechnology company focused on discovering, researching and developing new and effective treatments for psychiatric and neurological disorders,  recently announced positive results from a preliminary preclinical proof-of-concept study of PAS002, its tolerizing vaccine program in MS.

The Pasithea vaccine promotes immune tolerance to a specific myelin protein, reducing the severity of relapses and helping the test animals gain weight, indicating a better overall health status.

“Although early-stage data, we’re thrilled with the results of this study and the strong preclinical efficacy data of our tolerizing approach,” Pasithea CEO Dr. Tiago Reis Marques said.

While regular vaccines usually are designed to train the body to develop an immune response against a particular pathogen, tolerizing vaccines essentially do the opposite, acting as a “reverse vaccine.” Those vaccines train the immune system to tolerate a molecule, suppressing an unwanted immune response against it.

Pasithea hopes that helping the immune system accept GlialCAM, PAS002 will prevent the attacks that cause myelin loss in the brain and spinal cord, thereby reducing disease severity and MS relapses.

Another recent article in Science showed published research that scientists have discovered about the risk of an individual contracting MS. The study showed that MS increases 32-fold after a person is infected with the Epstein-Barr virus. However, the risk of developing the condition does not increase when other viruses infect the patient. The scientists also tested MS biomarkers showing neurodegeneration.

There are currently 15 vaccines actively under development for the Epstein-Barr virus, most of which are in discovery or preclinical stages. The Modified vaccinia Ankara (MVA) vaccine under development by the Chinese University of Hong Kong is in Phase II. It uses the same technology as AstraZeneca plc AZN and Johnson & Johnson JNJ on their COVID-19 vaccines. 

The most prominent company involved, Moderna, has started testing the vaccine mRNA-1189, which uses mRNA technology, in Phase I studies. If successful, the vaccine could be one of the first on the market for the Epstein-Barr virus. Though the Moderna vaccine does not indicate MS, it could eventually help with disease prevention.

For more information on Pasithea Technologies, visit pasithea.com

This post contains sponsored advertising content. This content is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be investing advice.

Featured photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

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