Tecfidera Significantly Improves Regulatory Responsiveness of T Cells, Study Finds

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Credit: David Scharf/Science Photo Library

Researchers have shown that Tecfidera (dimethyl fumarate) significantly improves the responsiveness of effector T cells to regulatory T cells. This added sensitivity to regulatory T cells might provide new insights into Tecfidera’s mechanism of action in multiple sclerosis (MS) treatment.

The study “Dimethyl Fumarate Therapy Significantly Improves the Responsiveness of T Cells in Multiple Sclerosis Patients for Immunoregulation by Regulatory T Cells” was recently published in The International Journal of Molecular Science.

Effector T cells are a natural component of the immune system, and are controlled by regulatory T cells. These effector T cells can become resistant to regulatory T cell activity, allowing the effector T cells to become involved in the autoimmune response that causes MS.

Researchers in this study transferred human immune cells from a healthy donor into mice, which caused an immune response between the human immune cells and the animal host. The research team then transferred regulatory T cells to the mice from MS patients, some of which were undergoing Tecfidera therapy, and some of which were untreated.

Mice that received regulatory T cells from Tecfidera-treated MS patients showed a significant reduction in immune response relative to the mice receiving T cells from untreated MS patients. The regulatory T cells from Tecfidera-treated MS patients also showed similar behavior to T cells from healthy donors. These results suggest that Tecfidera treatment improves effector T cells regulation, thereby limiting the autoimmune response.

While this study represents progress in understanding Tecfidera’s mechanism of action, the researchers emphasized that MS is a complicated condition. They observed that “… MS is a multifactorial autoimmune disease that is caused by a complex interaction between immune cells and tissue, thereby contributing to the pathological heterogeneity.”

Though it is a common MS treatment, Tecfidera’s mechanism of action remains poorly understood. Other researchers have theorized that the inhibition of a key enzyme or blocking the differentiation of certain T cells may be responsible for Tecfidera’s therapeutic effect.

Tecfidera has become a staple of MS treatment since its approval by the FDA in 2013. Produced by Biogen, it has become the “#1 prescribed pill for relapsing remitting MS” according to the Tecfidera website, and generated over 4 billion dollars in revenue last year, as described in the Biogen 2018 annual report.

Scientist / Writer / Environmentalist ~ I would love to work with you. Learn more about me: https://jesse-harris.ca/

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