Australian team tests new multiple sclerosis treatment

Document date:  Thu 30 May 2002
Published:  Thu 30 May 2002 00:00:00
Document No:  190815
Document part:  A
Market Flag:  Y


HOMEX - Melbourne                                                     


Multiple sclerosis (MS) affects thousands of Australians. There are
few treatments and most have side effects or other disadvantages.

"We aim to use a fundamentally different kind of drug chemistry
("antisense") to create a new way to treat MS and reduce its impact
on the lives of millions of people across the world," says Mark
Diamond, CEO of Antisense Therapeutics".

"Following the convincing demonstration of activity in an animal
model of MS, we have started pre-clinicel toxicology trials in
conjunction with Isis Pharmaceuticals and hope to start clinical
trials in Australia early in 2003.

Multiple sclerosis affects 12,000 to 15,000 Australians, and about
two and a half million people around the world. MS is a chronic
disease that usually first appears between the ages of 20 and 40.

MS appears to be an autoimmune disease in which the body damages its
own nerve cells. The cause is unknown and there is no cure. Improved
drugs have become available in recent years that reduce the MS
attacks. However there are significant issues with the use of these

"We need better ways to treat MS. We believe antisense drugs offer a
new way forward," says Mark Diamond.

"Our target is a protein called VLA-4 which helps white blood cells
enter tissues to fight disease. Individuals with MS have excessive
amounts of this protein which causes white blood calls to migrate to
the central nervous system and attack healthy nerve cells".

"Most conventional drugs modify the activity of disease causing
proteins in the body. Our antisense drug would go to work earlier,
stopping the body from making the VLA-4 protein that is responsible
for MS progression. We hope our antisense drug will provide efficacy,
safety, and dosing advantages over other agents being developed for

"We are using drug chemistry technology developed by Isis
Pharmaceuticals, the global leader in antisense technology. Isis
Pharmaceuticals have been developing and refining their antisense
technology over the past 13 years. They have the only approved
antisense compound on the market in the world."

Mark Diamond says, "Most people with MS can manage their condition
with current drugs."

"What we are aiming to achieve with our VLA-4 antisense, is to
demonstrate a significant slowing down in the progression of the
disease, so as to offer patents relapse free, longer periods of
remission. That would substantially improve the quality of life for
people with MS.

Antisense is a Melbourne-based company specialising in antisense

For further information:

What is MS:
Antisense and MS: http//
What is antisense: 
http// technology.htm

Contact: Mark Diamond, Antisense Therapeutics Ph (03)9826 0949 
         Barbara Pesel, Pesel & Carr          Ph (03)9663 0886