Researchers Found Synthetic Molecule Promising as Multiple Sclerosis Treatment

Researchers found a synthetic molecule that can restore compromised myelin, according to a report published on April 19, 2019.

In people suffering from multiple sclerosis, the immune system attacks and damages myelin, which is the insulating layer on nerves in the spinal cord, brain, and optic nerve. This ceases the function of the nerve. The synthetic molecule discovered by scientists is capable of restoring compromised myelin.

Over 20 years ago, sobetirome molecule was first created by Oregon Health and Science University’s Professor Tom Scanlan to lower cholesterol. Dr. Dennis Bourdette suggested that this molecule might help in the treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS). Tests were conducted on mice, which were genetically engineered to have MS-like symptoms. The results of the tests showed that sobetirome repaired the damaged myelin in mice without any side effects. However, in these first trials, the effectiveness of the molecule as an MS treatment was restricted by its limited ability to cross the blood-brain barrier.

As a solution to this, a chemical tag was added to the molecule by the scientists, thereby creating a compound known as Sob-AM2. It eliminates a negative electrical charge that ordinarily keeps sobetirome from efficiently penetrating the barrier. Once the compound passes through that barrier, a brain enzyme cleaves off the chemical tag, causing the Sob-AM2 to revert back to regular myelin-restoring sobetirome. Using this method, a tenfold increase in the amount of sobetirome that can infiltrate the central nervous system was observed.

Tom Scanlan said, “There are no drugs available today that will re-myelinate the de-myelinated axons and nerve fibers, and ours does that.”