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Autoimmune disease

Multiple sclerosis (MS)

Muscarinic acetylcholine receptor (CHRM; HM)

In vitro and mouse studies suggest CHRM antagonists could help treat MS. In rat oligodendrocyte precursor cells, benztropine induced differentiation into cells expressing oligodendrocyte markers and increased remyelination of axons when cocultured with neurons compared with vehicle. In a mouse model of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), benztropine prevented relapse and decreased disease severity compared with vehicle, and its effects were similar to those of the immunosuppressant MS treatments interferon-b (IFNB; IFN-b) and Gilenya fingolimod. In a mouse model of remyelination, benztropine accelerated remyelination, whereas vehicle did not. Next steps include testing benztropine in patients with MS.
Generic benztropine is marketed to treat symptoms of Parkinson's disease (PD).

Novartis AG markets the sphingosine 1-phosphate receptor agonist Gilenya to treat relapsing forms of MS.

SciBX 6(43); doi:10.1038/scibx.2013.1214
Published online Nov. 7, 2013

Patent application filed; available for licensing

Deshmukh, V.A. et al. Nature; published online Oct. 9, 2013;
Contact: Peter G. Schultz, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, Calif.