Francisco Quintana, MD, spoke about his efforts to identify new drugs for treating multiple sclerosis and how reliable biomarkers are the biggest need in treating MS.
Francisco Quintana, MD, scientist at Brigham and Women's Hospital, professor at Harvard Medical School: I lead 1 of 3 projects supported by the Progressive MS Alliance, and in particular what we are trying to do is that we establish a pipeline to identify new drugs to treat progressive multiple sclerosis (MS). We basically targeting astrocytes and microglia in the central nervous system (CNS), and the idea is to identify new drugs that could target specifically the pathogenic activities and also to identify pathways and mechanisms that regulate these cells in the context of progressive MS.
We know that in progressive MS, what we call innate immunity chronic inflammation in the CNS, might be one of the cellular pathological processes. In order to come up with efficacious therapies for progressive MS - which as you know is one of the most important unmet clinical needs for MS - we need to develop drugs that target specifically that chronic CNS restrictive inflammation.
So, hand-in-hand with having therapies for progressive MS, what we need is reliable biomarkers that any neurologist in his or her practice can use, in order to monitor disease progression and response to therapy. We're actually going to need that when we come up with trials to test these new kinds of drugs because, as you know, it's very difficult to run a trial with progressive MS, so the more data we collect from those trials, and the more sensitive a signal we can get from those trials, the better they will be. So our unmet clinical needs are precise therapies for progressive MS and, I would say, reliable biomarkers.