Does natalizumab, a medication used to treat multiple sclerosis, have potential for producing therapeutic effects against COVID-19?

Bottom Line:

This is the first case report to propose the potential use of natalizumab, an effective treatment for multiple sclerosis, in preventing the binding of COVID-19 to human cells.

Reference:

Aguirre, C. et al. Covid-19 in a patient with multiple sclerosis treated with natalizumab: May the blockade of integrins have a protective role? Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders (2020). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.msard.2020.102250

Date Published:

3 June 2020

Synopsis:

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic disease of the central nervous system caused by inflammation. Given that patients are immunosuppressed, new recommendations have been proposed for MS treatment to reduce the risk of infection and the number of hospital visits during the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, patients are given a longer dose of natalizumab, a drug that blocks receptors known as integrins. Integrins are cell surface receptors that are important for cell binding, migration and signalling. It is hypothesized that COVID-19 binds to these cell surface receptors allowing for entry into human cells. This paper looks into a case where a patient, diagnosed with MS in 2013, was treated with natalizumab 48 hours before developing COVID-19 symptoms. The patient recovered quickly within one week with repeated negative results for COVID-19. It is proposed that the blockage of integrin receptors by natalizumab prevented some of the virus from binding therefore reducing the ability of the virus to replicate.

Summary by: Eugenia Yeung