The treatment was found to be not only safe but also potentially highly effective in stopping the progression of some patients’ symptoms.
However, it’s safe to say that it will take much more data to actually know for sure whether or not this treatment is truly a significant step forward in managing this scary condition.
The symptoms of this debilitating disease vary a lot between patients, a majority of them experiencing intermittent flare-ups of illness.
Furthermore, for most of them, the condition tends to progressively get worse as time goes on.
The most common symptoms are having trouble walking, muscle weakness and an eventual loss of motor function, the latter of which is permanent.
The currently available treatments are able to manage the symptoms’ severity in those progressive cases but cannot really change the condition’s trajectory.
But now, Biotech company Atara Biotherapeutics hopes that this new experimental treatment they have been working on known for now as ATA188, can do just that!
This treatment is derived from donor T cells trained to target cells infected by the Epstein-Barr virus which is generally associated with multiple sclerosis.
As you may know, most people contract the Epstein-Barr virus at least once in their lives but very few experience severe symptoms (also known as mono) before the virus becomes dormant in their bodies.
Regardless, studies have shown that EBV can also cause a chain of events leading to the development of multiple sclerosis, as rare as that may be.
By using ATA188, the company hopes to slow down or even reverse the symptoms people with progressive multiple sclerosis tend to experience.
And sure enough, they have been able to produce encouraging results as the treatment appears to be safe and well tolerated.
In 20 out of the 24 patients treated using this method, the symptom progression has been either halted or reversed up to two years after!
Still, it has to be mentioned that the results are yet to undergo peer reviews so they should still be taken with a grain of salt at this point.
But if the treatment continues to show such great results, it could very well be the first treatment ever that can stop or even reverse the unfortunate decline in those suffering from progressive multiple sclerosis.