HIV Drug Does Not Impact MS Disease Activity

SEPTEMBER 15, 2016
Caitlyn Fitzpatrick
neurology, multiple sclerosis, MS, ECTRIMS 2016, pharmacy, infectious disease, HIV/AIDS, raltegravir

“Although the etiology of multiple sclerosis (MS) remains elusive, it is clear that Epstein Barr Virus (EBV) and possibly other viruses have a role in the pathogenesis of MS,” researchers started in a poster presentation at the 32nd Congress of the European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ECTRIMS 2016) in London, England.

Research has shown that people with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) have a significantly lower risk of developing MS. This could be because antiretroviral therapy (ART) inhibits the Human Endogenous Retrovirus – which researchers think could have a role in it as well. However, there is lacking evidence on what happens if HERVs are suppressed. Twenty patients with active relapsing MS were recruited for the six-month trial. The first three months were a baseline period and then patients were given the HIV integrase inhibitor, raltegravir, for the next three months. The goal was to see if the drug had an effect on gadolinium (Gd)-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) lesions.

Monthly MRI screenings, saliva collection for to test EBV shedding, blood sampling, virology, and immunological and inflammatory markers measurement, “indicated raltegravir had no significant effect on MS disease activity as measured by either the number or rate of development Gd-enhancing lesions during the treatment phase compared with the baseline phase,” the team said.

The drug also did not appear to influence disability or quality-of-life measures.

The researchers identified various reasons why raltegravir didn’t impact MS disease activity. It could have been the type of ART, the need for combination treatment for HIV, the treatment duration, or HERB expression doesn’t play a role in MS once the disease is established.

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