Developing a novel drug for progressive MS - MS Research Australia

Developing a novel drug for progressive MS

Dr Steven Petratos

Monash University, VIC

| A cure via repair and regeneration | Neurobiology | Incubator | 2019 | Investigator Led Research |


MS is an inflammatory disease which damages the myelin layer on nerve cells. This damage not only hinders the nerve impulses travelling down the nerve fibres, but also leaves the cells vulnerable to degeneration. It is thought that this nerve degeneration is a large contributor to progressive MS. Therefore, it is important that we discover ways to enhance the body’s natural abilities to regenerate its myelin layer (remyelinate nerve fibres). Dr Steven Petratos has been working on determining which molecules are responsible for nerve fibre damage, with the purpose of blocking the damage and protecting nerves.

Dr Petratos and his team have generated strong data indicating that a protein called MCT8 is vital for the survival of oligodendrocytes, the cells that are responsible for the creation of myelin. They have also developed a drug called DITPA, which can mimic the activity of the MCT8 protein. Their work so far suggests it may be possible to use this drug DIPTA, to enhance remyelination.

Scientists from Dr Petratos’ lab have shown that while myelin producing cells which lack MCT8 die, when they are treated with their DIPTA drug, they survive and go on to mature into functional myelin producing cells. Additionally, in areas of MS disease activity in the human brain, there appears to be a reduction in the amount of MCT8 that can be found. This suggests that this is an important protein in the disease process.

This project sets out to conduct further laboratory tests of this potential new treatment for progressive MS, by investigating this drug as a way of repairing damage to the myelin protecting nerve cells. If successful, the team will ultimately aim to take the drug forward for testing in clinical trials in people with MS.

Updated: 23 January 2019

Updated: 02 January, 2019

Stages of the research process

Fundamental laboratory

Laboratory research that investigates scientific theories behind the possible causes, disease progression, ways to diagnose and better treat MS.

Lab to clinic timeline: 10+ years

Research that builds on fundamental scientific research to develop new therapies, medical procedures or diagnostics and advances it closer to the clinic.

Lab to clinic timeline: 5+ years
Clinical Studies
and Clinical Trials

Clinical research is the culmination of fundamental and translational research turning those research discoveries into treatments and interventions for people with MS.

Lab to clinic timeline: 1-5 years



Grant Awarded

  • Incubator Grant

Total Funding

  • $25,000


  • 1 year - starting 2019

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