Targeting Epstein-Barr Virus–Infected B Cells With ATA188: Bridget A. Bagert, MD, MPH


The director of the Multiple Sclerosis Center at Ochsner Health discussed the open-label extension data presented at ECTRIMS Congress on ATA188 in progressive MS. [WATCH TIME: 4 minutes]

WATCH TIME: 4 minutes

"In progressive MS, our usual yardstick is less disability compared to the alternative, but in this study, not only did the disability slow down—it did more than just stop, it improved. People had improvement in clinical function.”

Research into multiple sclerosis (MS) pathophysiology that has been conducted in the past decade has brought to light the implications and role of Epstein-Barr virus–infected B cells in the disease’s cause. As such, Atara Biotherapeutics has developed an investigational treatment that aims to specifically target the inflammation caused by these infected cells.

The therapy, ATA188, is an allogeneic T-cell immunotherapy for patients with progressive MS, has been evaluated in a phase 1/2 clinical trial, with results recently presented at the 37th Congress of the European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis(ECTRIMS), October 13-15, 2021. The data include magnetization transfer ratio (MTR) measurements and suggest that the therapy has a sustained clinical benefit over 39 months.

Ultimately, MTR for unenhancing T2 lesions showed a correlation with EDSS at 6 months (n = 21; ρ = –0.4180; P = .0594) and at 12 months (n = 23; ρ = –0.3539; P = .1062). For those with normal-appearing brain tissue, the correlation results at 6 months and 12 months were as follows: 6 months (n = 20): ρ = –0.2473 (P = .2932); 12 months (n = 22): ρ = –0.1027 (P = .6491). The findings suggest that there may be evidence of a potential remyelination effect based on the increases in MTR associated with EDSS scores.

To find out more about the therapy, its potential, and the findings from this study, NeurologyLive spoke with investigator Bridget A. Bagert, MD, MPH, director, Multiple Sclerosis Center, Ochsner Health. Atara Bio is still investigating the therapy in an ongoing and enrolling phase 2 portion of the study, called EMBOLD (NCT03283826), which is expected to read out interim results in early 2022.

For more coverage of ECTRIMS 2021, click here.

Bar-Or A, Pender MP, Hodgkinson SJ, et al. Updated open-label extension clinical data and new magnetization transfer ratio imaging data from a Phase I study of ATA188, an off-the-shelf, allogeneic Epstein-Barr virus-targeted T-cell immunotherapy for progressive multiple sclerosis. Presented at ECTRIMS Congress; October 13-15, 2021; Poster P638.
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