In the 21st century, human health remains fragile and every day we are discovering many events that impact it severely, such as aging, environment, diet and resistance to antibiotics. Our current therapeutic arsenal is completely insufficient to be effective against many severe diseases, and drug discovery is more urgent than ever to improve human life in our global world.
Among these pathological conditions, multiple sclerosis (MS) is a growing field, being one of the more disabling chronic disorders among young adults and prevailing two to three times more in women than in men. MS is a disease that affects the central nervous system (brain, spinal cord and optic nerves). There is a complete lack of knowledge about how it originates, and it is impossible to predict how the pathology will progress. There is no cure, but current treatment can relieve symptoms and help people with MS to manage their daily living.
Multiple sclerosis means “scar tissue in multiple areas,” and these “scars” or scleroses are produced by the lack of myelin sheaths in multiple areas. As a result, the electrical impulses from the brain do not flow smoothly to the target nerve. Despite the great work by pharmaceutical researchers to discover and develop treatments for MS, today we need more human and financial efforts over the next decades to stop this pathology – which affects more than three million people worldwide today with an increasing prevalence – both in terms of better diagnostic tools and life expectancy.
This monographic volume collects some of the most outstanding theories and examples of new drugs, treatments and targets currently under pharmaceutical development or validation. The first part of the book includes five chapters, by the authors García-Merino, Hafler, Villar, Alonso, and Mestre and Guaza. It is aimed at providing a deep overview of the disease, genetics, biomarkers, and tools for diagnosis and drug discovery such as animal models. In the second part of the book, new drugs and therapeutic strategies under development are commented on with clear ideas about therapies for primary progressive MS, B-cell-based therapies and the emergent field of protein kinase inhibitors. The authors for these aspects are Cohen, Milo, and Martinez and Gil. Two complementary chapters written by Williams and de Castro are grouped in the third part of the book, focused on the new era of remyelinating agents. Finally, the fourth section of the book offers visions about new targets such as sigma receptors and the endocannabinoid system, diagnostic and/or therapeutic tools such as non-coding RNAs and the influence that diet and microbiota may have in the prevention and treatment of MS. The authors of this last section are Pryce, Collina, Otaegui, and Ochoa-Repáraz.
I would like personally to express my great gratitude to all of these contributors for their faith in this project, and the time and work they dedicated to it. I would also like to thank my family and my colleagues and students of my research group for their patience while I have been preparing this edition. Finally, but not less importantly, I would like to thank the support of Diego Fernandez in the translational research for some MS drug discovery projects and the Royal Society of Chemistry staff, mainly Katie Morrey and Drew Gwilliams, for their support in bringing the book to completion.
I hope that this book provides an excellent, hands-on resource to scientists, both in industry and academia, who are looking to find a solution for many patients worldwide waiting for effective drugs.
Centro de Investigaciones Biologicas-CSIC
ANKAR PHARMA (www.ankarpharma.com)