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In vitro and mouse studies suggest inhibiting eosinophil toxicity could help treat neuromyelitis optica (NMO), an autoimmune demyelinating disease. In cell culture, the NMO-causing autoantibody NMO-IgG plus eosinophils led to antibody- and complement-dependent cytotoxicity, whereas NMO-IgG or eosinophils alone did not. In mouse spinal cord slices, NMO-IgG plus eosinophils or eosinophil-secreted toxic granules induced NMO pathology, which was reversed by the antihistamine Zyrtec cetirizine. In a mouse model for NMO, cetirizine or an anti-IL-5 antibody that induces hypoeosinophilia decreased lesion severity compared with no treatment or complement control, respectively. Next steps could include testing in additional models.
At least four companies have anti-IL-5 inhibitors in clinical testing to treat various diseases.
UCB Group, Pfizer Inc. and GlaxoSmithKline plc market Zyrtec to treat allergy and rhinitis.

SciBX 6(16); doi:10.1038/scibx.2013.393
Published online April 25, 2013

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Zhang, H. & Verkman, A.S. et al.
J. Clin. Invest.
; published online
April 8, 2013;
Contact: Alan S. Verkman, University of California, San Francisco, Calif.