An encouraging experimental drug that is being developed for Multiple Sclerosis continues to show promise in being able to offer neuroprotective benefits — an effect that could slow and eventually cure MS. Masitinib, which is being developed by AB Science for numerous neurological indications, including Alzheimer’s disease, progressive multiple sclerosis, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), is now showing signs of being able to offer neuroprotection in stroke as well.
Stroke, both ischemic and hemorrhagic, is the second-leading cause of mortality worldwide and currently lacks effective treatments, leading to very poor prognosis to those who have been affected. Stroke, or cerebrovascular accident (CVA) is caused by abnormal blood supply, either lack of blood flow — ischaemic — or hemorrhage. The current treatments for ischaemic stroke include measures to lower blood pressure, reducing cerebral edema, temperature control, glucose regulation, and antiplatelet and fibrinolytic treatments. Recently, a new strategy for treating experimentally induced ischemic stroke in mice and rats were proposed with neuro protection as the underlying principle.
The neuroprotective effect is achieved with Masitinib, an oral tyrosine kinase inhibitor, and the results of the pre-clinical trial were announced by AB Science and published in the online version of the journal Naunyn-Schmiedeberg’s Archives of Pharmacology. The study is entitled “Neuroprotective effect of masitinib in rats with postischemic stroke.”
The study showed Masitinib administration in animal models of stroke was efficient in reducing stroke-related brain infarct size. Thus, the authors suggest that Masitinib represents a potential new therapy for the treatment of ischemic stroke, offering neuroprotection to stroke patients, particularly in the acute stage. However, researchers note that further investigation is needed to confirm the results obtained and understand the mechanism of action of Masitinib.
Dr. Ivan Kocic, study leading author noted, “Mast cells are present on both sides of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and interact with neurons, glia, blood vessels, and other hematopoietic cell. Mast cells disrupt the permeability of the BBB when they degranulate. Mast cells are also involved in neuro inflammation responsible for neuronal alteration and engage in a cross-talk with microglia and astrocytes. Masitinib, by blocking mast cell degranulation on the blood side of the BBB (i.e. extracerebral), may restore integrity of the BBB and reduce neuro-inflammation. This preclinical study, showing the potential of masitinib to improve therapeutic outcome of ischemic stroke, most probably via preservation of BBB integrity, provides further evidence of masitinib’s prospective role in neurodegenerative diseases.”
Because many proposed therapies for both MS and Stroke center on neuroprotective effects, the positive data from this current study lends more credence to the possible use of masitinib in Multiple Sclerosis as well. Currently, AB Science is actively engaged in a Phase III clinical trial for the MS indication, entitled “A Phase 2b/3 Study to Compare Efficacy and Safety of Masitinib to Placebo in the Treatment of Patients With Primary Progressive or Relapse-free Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis,” which will test the therapy for 96 weeks on participants with progressive forms of multiple sclerosis.