Francisco Quintana: The Need for New Candidate Therapies for MS

DECEMBER 16, 2017
Matt Hoffman
At MS Paris 2017, MD Magazine sat with experts and key opinion leaders in the treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS) to discuss the important and innovative topics from the conference.

Francisco Quintana, MD, an associate scientist at Brigham and Women's Hospital and professor at Harvard Medical School, discussed the need for more efficacious therapies in multiple sclerosis (MS), and how the team he leads with the Progressive MS Alliance is helping to find these therapies.

Quintana leads 1 of 3 teams that work hand-in-hand with more than 20 institutions around the world to reduce the time and cost of getting therapies ready for clinical trials.

Francisco Quintana, MD, a scientist at Brigham and Women's Hospital, a professor at Harvard Medical School: 
I lead 1 of 3 projects supported by the Progressive MS Alliance, and particularly, what we are trying to do is that we establish a pipeline to identify new candidate drugs to treat progressive multiple sclerosis (MS). We do this basically, by 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 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 within 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.

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