In our Sticky Cell series articles, we’ve emphasised the massively important role of white blood cells (leukocytes) in healthy immune system function and also in autoimmune disease conditions. In Article Three we explained how leukocytes can bring on and exacerbate the progression of autoimmune disease.
An example of this is in the neurological disease Multiple Sclerosis. In MS, leukocytes attack the protective, insulating sheath around neurons, called myelin. The nerve cells become damaged from exposure and fail to transmit important messages between the brain and the rest of the body. The symptoms are complex; predominantly impaired motor function, loss of sensation in parts of the body and deterioration of vision.
In the very early development-stage of MS, leukocyte stickiness is amplified causing increased recruitment (explained in Article Two) into the brain tissue where the neuron cells are located. The leukocytes lose their ability to discern between healthy and non-healthy tissue and they rapidly destroy healthy brain cells causing massive, sustained inflammation.
There are a number of treatment options for people with relapsing MS. One of the most effective drugs on the market is Tysabri (Natalizumab). Tysabri can significantly reduce the stickiness of a patient’s leukocytes and hereby suppress cell recruitment into the brain and also inflammation. The main issue however, is that a patient’s immune system can be compromised in defending against harmful foreign pathogens as normal leukocyte function is also inhibited by Tysabri.
Tysabri therapy can put patients at a high risk of contracting other illnesses like Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy (PML) which is caused by an infection in the brain of John Cunningham virus (JCV). PML is rare, but it has a very poor prognosis and is often fatal. Tsyabri’s use in therapy is therefore measured.
Research led by our R&D team at StickyCell is underway to improve the therapeutic properties of Tysabri and other drugs like it. StickyCell has developed a unique, novel companion blood test (LAFA-NE01 test) for Tysabri, which has the potential to address the PML issue and significantly improve the safety of Tysabri therapy.
Increased leukocyte stickiness causes inflammation in the brain and is responsible for neuron damage in individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS)
Tysabri suppresses leukocyte stickiness, which reduces inflammation and disease activity
Suppressed leukocyte stickiness means patients are vulnerable to other illnesses, for example Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy (PML)
StickyCell is developing a companion blood test (LAFA-NE01 test) for Tysabri therapy to improve its safety and performance