MS BreakthroughsThe OHSU Multiple Sclerosis Center is a national leader in MS research. Over 40 laboratory and clinician scientists, postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, research assistants and research nurses work together on a variety of research projects all aimed at finding new treatments for MS.

Scientists at the OHSU MS Center have discovered 8 novel therapies in the laboratory which have gone into early clinical trial in patients. Two of which are:

Recombinant T-cell ligand 1000

Using advanced bioengineering techniques, Drs. Arthur Vandenbark, Gregory Burrows and Halina Offner invented a new therapy called recombinant T-cell receptor ligands, or RTL. RTL therapy holds great promise for treating a number of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, including MS and stroke.

During RTL therapy, RTL molecules bind to scavenger cells, causing them to “stun” disease-causing T cells (a specialized type of white blood cells), turning them into protective T cells and promoting myelin and neuron repair in the brain and spinal cord.

RTL1000 was designed to treat MS and is being developed by a local biotechnology company, Artielle Immunotherapeutics, Inc. The first safety trial of RTL1000 in MS patients was completed and a phase 2 “proof-of-principal” efficacy trial will begin in early 2015.

Lipoic acid

Lipoic acid (LA) is a natural antioxidant. Dr. Dennis Bourdette and his laboratory research team were the first to discover that LA is highly effective at treating a mouse model of MS.

Drs. Vijayshree Yadav and Bourdette conducted the first trials of lipoic acid in people with MS and found that it was effective when given orally. Dr. Rebecca Spain has joined the team; the three seek to develop LA as an oral treatment for both relapsing and secondary progressive MS (SPMS). Learn more

Monkey virus

Understanding complex human diseases such as MS requires animal models that closely resemble humans. OHSU is fortunate to have a unique monkey colony at the Oregon National Primate Research Center that develops a neurological disease that parallels the inflammatory and neurological aspects of MS. This monkey model is crucial, as monkeys are evolutionarily closer to humans than the rodents frequently used to study MS-like conditions.

OHSU researchers have learned a novel virus is associated with the MS-like condition the monkeys develop. This virus is present in all of the monkeys, but is only found in the brains of those animals with the condition. Our researchers are using all the molecular and biological tools available to investigate how this virus is associated with disease.