Experimental Drug Appears to Repair Nerve Damage in Multiple Sclerosis Patients

Click here to receive MS news via e-mail

The American Academy of Neurology (AAN) recently announced the results of a new study that evaluated an experimental drug for multiple sclerosis (MS) with the potential to repair damaged myelin layers, a fatty material that covers and protects neurons. These findings will be presented at the 67th AAN Annual Meeting, which will take place from April 18 – 25th in Washington, DC.

MS is a chronic, progressive neurodegenerative disorder that results from an attack on the central nervous system (brain, spinal cord and optical nerves) by the body’s own immune system, causing inflammation, damage to the myelin layer and irreversible neurological disability. MS affects approximately 2.5 million people worldwide.

In this study, the research team conducted a Phase 2 clinical trial including 82 individuals who had experienced their first incident of acute optic neuritis, an inflammation in the optic nerve that usually only affects one eye, leading to nerve fiber damage and myelin loss. About half of the people who develop optic neuritis are estimated to later develop MS.

Participants in the study were treated with a high steroid dose and randomly given the experimental drug antibody, anti-LINGO-1, or a placebo once every four weeks, six doses in total. Follow-up assessments were performed every four weeks over the course of six months with a final appointment at eight months. An optic test that evaluates the capacity of the visual system to conduct electrical signals between the retina and the brain — the visual evoked potential (VEP) test — was used to determine drug efficacy in myelin repair and recovery of optic nerve latency. This test is based on the fact that demyelination slows or alters nerve impulses.

Researchers found that individuals treated with anti-LINGO-1 had better VEP results than individuals given the placebo. Six months into treatment, patients receiving the drug had improved nerve impulses conduction by 7.55 milliseconds on average (34%) in comparison to patients under placebo treatment. At eight months, an average improvement of 9.13 milliseconds (41%) was found in comparison to the placebo group. Furthermore, patients whose VEP latency in the affected eye returned to normal or nearly normal (within 10% of the normal eye) increased from 26% reported in the placebo group to 53% in the drug-treatment group.

“This study, for the first time, provides biological evidence of repair of damaged myelin in the human brain, and advances the field of neuro-reparative therapies,” said the study’s lead author Dr. Diego Cadavid at Biogen in Cambridge, Massachusetts in a press release. “More studies are needed to evaluate whether these changes lead to clinical improvement,”

Researchers are currently conducting a second Phase 2 clinical trial in individuals with MS to assess the clinical effect of anti-LINGO-1 in myelin recovery in these patients.

[adrotate group=”4″]

Tagged , , , .

Patrícia holds her PhD in Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases from the Leiden University Medical Center in Leiden, The Netherlands. She has studied Applied Biology at Universidade do Minho and was a postdoctoral research fellow at Instituto de Medicina Molecular in Lisbon, Portugal. Her work has been focused on molecular genetic traits of infectious agents such as viruses and parasites.
Click here to receive MS news via e-mail


  1. kam says:

    Can i ask will this nerve damage repair of the optical nerve only be possible in MS patients.

    As I have a family member and he has damaged optical nerve only 10% central vision left.

    This was due to the doctor repeated giving him steroids for the eyes.

    Hope i get an answer as this could help them if its not only in MS patients

    • Patricia Silva, PhDPatricia Silva, PhD says:

      Dear Kam, the research team has tested the anti-LINGO-1 experimental drug in patients with optic neuritis having obtained positive results. If the damage inflicted in the optical nerve of your family member can be considered optic neuritis, then this drug might potentially be suitable as a therapy. However, as stated in the article, this is an experimental drug, it has not been approved yet and made available for the general public.

  2. Maria says:

    I have a first degree relatives with optic neuritis in one eye from an MS relapse 6 months ago. The vision is worse in this eye. Could taking this experimental drug repair her vision even if she started it 6 months after the relapse? And what are the side effects of this drug?

    • Patricia Silva, PhDPatricia Silva, PhD says:

      Dear Maria, the anti-LINGO-1 experimental drug seems to be effective in patients with optic neuritis. An anti-LINGO clinical trial is now being conducted in MS patients to determine whether the drug has a clinical benefit in these particular patients. So far, anti-LINGO seems to be well tolerated, although the ongoing studies should provide further insights into possible adverse effects.

  3. Mr. B. says:

    Will this new drug help with people that have optic nerve damage from glaucoma ??? if yes how does one obtain or get on the testing list for testing if its a no any idea when or if optic nerve damage from glaucoma will ever be able to be repaired ??

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *