Title: The story of Glatiramer acetate (Copaxone) in the treatment of multiple sclerosis and its new applications

Rina Aharoni

The Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel


Currently - Senior Research Staff Scientist, Department of Immunology, The Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel. BSc in Biology in Biology, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel. MSc and PhD in Life Sciences, The Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel. Postdoctoral research, Stanford University, CA, USA. Main research interests: Neuroimmunology; Autoimmunity; Pathology and therapy of multiple sclerosis (MS) and its model experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE); immunomodulation,  neuroprotection and repair processes in the Central Nervous System; Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). Published more than 70 papers and reviews on these subjects.


Multiple sclerosis (MS) is currently recognized as complex diseases involving autoimmune inflammation as well as axonal and neuronal pathology. Novel treatment strategies thus aim to act within the central nervous system (CNS) not only by reducing the inflammation but also by inducing neuroprotection and repair processes.
    The synthetic copolymer Copaxone (glatiramer acetate, GA), an approved drug for the treatment of MS, is the first and so far the only therapeutic agent to have a copolymer as its active ingredient. Using the animal model of MS - experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), the immunomodulatory mechanism of action of GA was elucidated. Furthermore, recent studies revealed neuroprotective and repair consequences of GA treatment in the CNS. These include elevation in neurotrophic factors expressions, remyelination and neurogenesis.
    Based on its immunomodulatory mode of action, additional potential applications of GA were investigated, such as prevention of immune rejection, improvement of stem cells engraftment and amelioration of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD).