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Society-Funded Team Shows Neuroprotective Potential of Experimental Thyroid Hormone-Like Drug in Mice

January 12, 2021

A team at Oregon Health & Science University reported that a compound that mimics aspects of thyroid hormone can stimulate repair of nerve-insulating myelin in mice with MS-like disease, and may also help prevent tissue damage, including damage to the cells that make myelin in these laboratory models as well.

In MS, immune system activity destroys myelin in the brain and spinal cord. High doses of thyroid hormone can stimulate myelin repair in lab models of MS, but high doses can’t be used in people because of serious adverse heart problems and bone loss.

This team has synthesized a compound, sobetirome, that has some thyroid hormone-like qualities but does not appear to cause those negative side effects. The team also tested a related compound, Sob-AM2, which is better able to get into the nervous system. Once Sob-AM2 gets inside it is processed by the nervous system into sobetirome. This work is being continued at a start-up biotech company with the objective of developing a new therapy.  

Further study is necessary to determine whether this strategy can be used safely and effectively to prevent or repair damage in people with MS. This study was funded in part by the National MS Society.

Read more on the university website
Read the paper in Journal of Neuroimmunology

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis, and there is currently no cure for MS. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are leading to better understanding and moving us closer to a world free of MS. An estimated 1 million people live with MS in the United States. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, and it affects women three times more than men.


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