“There is a very real possibility that we can convert these observations into new drugs that could protect the brains of people with MS against damage,” said Steinman, a professor of neurology at Stanford University in California, in a June 4 telephone interview. “It opens up a whole new medicine cabinet of natural lipid compounds that are quite complex and no one had noticed them before. Certainly, unexpectedly, they have these protective guardian-like qualities.”
Steinman, who invented Tysabri, said the fatty acids tune down the inflammatory pathways after the damage to the brain has occurred, while Tysabri and Gilenya help block more harm from happening. Both drugs also come with serious, rare side effects. Steinman said the new approach with fatty acids may be safer than Tysabri, which generated $1.1 billion in sales (BIIB) last year.
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