UCL News


Worldwide hunt for cure

16 March 2006

Doctors fighting to save the six victims of the disastrous clinical trials are scouring the world for a cure.

The maker of the drug, TeGenero, has flown in 20 doctors from its base in Germany to help. …

The drug is an antibody that should stick to faulty protein cells causing inflammation, but it appears it is also latching on to proteins in the vital organs, causing them to shut down.

Professor Trevor Smart [UCL Pharmacology] said some antibodies were very difficult to remove from cells once they have latched on and can take the body several months to clear. He said: "I have never known this happen before in this devastating way. It is very alarming. The protein would have to be destroyed by the body before normal function can return.

"Antibodies are seen as the ultimate 'magic bullet' as they are usually so specific and avoid the side-effects of other drugs. The patients will be receiving conservative treatment, keeping their systems going until the antibody gets broken down and that can take months."

He warned there may also be long-term damage to the kidneys and liver.
Professor Smart said he was alarmed this reaction had not shown up in animal tests and it was essential, once it had been established what went wrong, that measures were taken so it was not repeated.

Rebecca Smith, 'The Evening Standard' 16 March 2006