Lower levels of pro-inflammatory immune signaling proteins were found in the blood of people with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) treated with Tysabri (natalizumab) and were associated with fewer relapses and less disability, a study has found.
The findings show Tysabri affects the immune system beyond its known target and support the use of the immune signaling protein interleukin-17 (IL-17) as a biomarker for disease activity and progression, the researchers noted.
The study, “Clinical Immunological Correlations in Patients with Multiple Sclerosis Treated with Natalizumab,” was published in the journal Brain Sciences.
Tysabri, manufactured by Biogen, is an approved RRMS therapy that works by stopping immune cells from entering the central nervous system (CNS, comprising the brain and spinal cord) before they can attack the fatty coating on nerve fibers (myelin sheath) and cause MS.
Ordinarily, for immune cells to access the CNS, they interact with a protein complex found on the surface of cells that make up the blood-brain barrier — a selective border that regulates the entry of cells and molecules into the brain.
Tysabri is an antibody designed to recognize and bind to this protein complex, blocking immune cell entry in the CNS. However, how Tysabri affects the immune system outside the CNS (called the peripheral immune system) is unclear.
To address this question, a team led by researchers based at the University of Medicine, Pharmacy, Science and Technology of Targu Mures, in Romania, collected blood samples from 60 RRMS adults treated with Tysabri to analyze levels of pro- and anti-inflammatory immune signaling proteins known as cytokines.
The study included 39 women (65%) and 21 men (35%) with a mean age of 38.1 years, already treated with Tysabri or about to start (treatment-naïve). Blood samples were drawn at study start (baseline) and after a mean interval of 6.96 months, and were also collected from 33 age- and sex-matched healthy individuals who served as controls.
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