Natalizumab, which was discovered and developed by Elan, is a humanized monoclonal antibody. It is the first in a new class of potential therapeutics known as alpha 4 integrin inhibitors. It is currently nearing completion of Phase 2 clinical testing for multiple sclerosis and Crohn's disease.
Alpha 4 integrin inhibitors are designed to block cell adhesion to blood vessel walls, and subsequent migration of white blood cells into tissue.
Natalizumab works by binding to cell surface receptors known as alpha-4-beta-1 (VLA-4) and alpha-4-beta-7. These receptors are found on most types of white blood cells.
Natalizumab may be useful in the treatment of a range of inflammatory and non-inflammatory diseases.