University of Calgary

Researcher enters partnership to further new treatment of MS

UToday HomeApril 4, 2013

By Meghan Ockey

Researcher enters partnership to further new treatment of MSV. Wee Yong’s team at the University of Calgary is collaborating with Innovate Calgary and the Centre for Drug Research and Development.Multiple Sclerosis affects more than 70,000 Canadians and 14,000 Albertans. Work being done by University of Calgary professor and researcher Dr. V. Wee Yong has the potential to improve the quality of life for those suffering from MS. This novel therapy may ultimately prevent relapses in patients from early to progressive staged MS.

“In conditions like MS, immune cells enter the brain and spinal cord in large numbers to produce injury, commonly referred to as plaques,” explains Yong. “If we can reduce this infiltration, then we may prevent the formation of plaques.”

Yong’s research team discovered a protein called EMMPRIN that acts as a switch to permit the entry of immune cells into the brain. “Therefore, if we can turn off the switch, then we should reduce the formation of MS plaques,” notes Yong. “This has led to what we are working on now, the development of medications to inhibit the activity of EMMPRIN.”

Moreover, since relapses in MS patients are correlated with the entry of immune cells into the brain and spinal cord, Yong’s therapy could also prevent relapses and clinical exacerbations of MS.

Yong and his team have been working on this area of research for 15 years. They recently entered a partnership with Innovate Calgary, who reached out to the Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD) to help them further develop their research.

“We are currently working with CDRD to develop an antibody that inhibits EMMPRIN and that can be used in humans,” explains Yong. “The collaboration with CDRD is vital as it provides the means and the technical expertise to generate the best antibodies to target this molecule.”

It is through such partnerships that these treatments can reach the desired market in a timely fashion.

“This new strategy to treat MS is very exciting and Innovate Calgary is thrilled to support its continued development and commercialization,” explains Innovate Calgary Technology Analyst, Chris Nicholls. “Dr. Yong and his team have generated an extraordinary amount of data to support EMMPRIN as a viable therapeutic target in the treatment of MS in a relatively short time frame. After a lead anti-EMMPRIN antibody is identified in our collaboration with CDRD, the technology could conceivably begin clinical trials within the next 2-3 years.”

This technology is available for licensing through Innovate Calgary.


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