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Drug Prevents MS-Like Illness in Rats

Experimental compound stopped paralysis, weight loss

FRIDAY, June 25, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Rats with a multiple sclerosis-like disease were spared disease-related weight loss and paralysis after treatment with an experimental drug, according to a new study.

"While there is much more research to be done on this compound, these initial results are very exciting," said Bruce Bebo Jr., a researcher and assistant professor of neurology at Oregon Health & Science University.

The study was funded by San Diego-based Ligand Pharmaceuticals, which makes the drug and collaborated in the research.

The Oregon team focused on rats with autoimmune encephalitis, a disease long used as a stand-in for human multiple sclerosis (MS) in animal trials. Some of the rats received the trial drug, called LGD5552. Others were given a related anti-inflammatory steroid called prednisolone, and a third group of rats received no treatment.

All of the untreated rats developed paralysis as a consequence of their disease. Rats treated with prednisolone showed reduced symptoms, however, while rats treated with LGD5552 -- which is not a steroid -- remained completely free of weakness. LGD5552-treated rats maintained their body weights, while the other rats in the study lost weight.

Rats treated with LGD5552 also showed no signs of inflammatory lesions in the spinal cord, a hallmark of both autoimmune encephalitis and MS. The rats in the other two groups did develop the lesions.

The research was presented at the recent national meeting of the Endocrine Society.

More information

Read more about MS from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society .

SOURCE: Oregon Health & Science University news release, June 18, 2004
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