The search for safer and more effective options to treat multiple sclerosis (MS) is an active focus of research around the globe. To date, about half a dozen therapies are FDA approved—and only for certain forms of the complex disease. The following advances were reported in late 2008:
•Major pharmaceutical company Novartis released promising results from a Phase III one-year trial for a drug called FTY72. The oral drug has shown better results for relapsing-remitting MS than the standard regimen of interferon beta-1a, an injected medicine. Additional data from the ongoing study will further assess the investigational drug’s benefit-risk profile.
•An experimental drug called dirucotide is also in late stages of clinical testing. Developed by BioMS Medical Corporation, this new compound mimics a protein that occurs naturally in the body and targets a particularly aggressive form of MS called Secondary Progressive MS, or SPMS. No viable treatment option yet exists for this patient population. The intravenous therapy is given twice yearly.
For more information about MS research, go to nationalmssociety.org
For more information about new studies of MS and other diseases, go to clinicaltrials.gov