Treating the Root of Multiple Sclerosis With ATA188: Bridget A. Bagert, MD, MPH


After showing potential remyelination effects, the director of the Multiple Sclerosis Center at Ochsner Health offered her perspective on the latest data for ATA188 in progressive MS. [WATCH TIME: 4 minutes]

WATCH TIME: 4 minutes

“The mechanism of action is getting at the root cause of multiple sclerosis, which has never been done before, and I don’t think it’s an accident that a study that’s actually targeting the root cause of MS shows results that we’ve never seen before. Again, we’ll see how it all plays out in the larger trials, but the big implication is there is a lot of reason for hope for patients with progressive MS.”

As Bridget A. Bagert, MD, MPH, director, Multiple Sclerosis Center, Ochsner Health, explained in a conversation with NeurologyLive, literature collected in the last decade has lent credence to the thought that the root cause of multiple sclerosis (MS) is Epstein-Barr virus–infected B cells. For this reason, now, Atara Biotherapeutics is developing a novel agent that targets these 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, the 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), with the findings suggesting evidence of a potential remyelination effect based on the increases in MTR associated with EDSS scores.

Bagert, an investigator in the trial, shared her insight into the data and her reaction to the potential shown by these results, despite their early-phase nature. Atara Bio is continuing its investigation of 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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