New MS Drug Promising

New MS Drug PromisingNew MS Drug Promising

Results of clinical trials show promise in reducing the progression of multiple sclerosis, researchers say. The new drug could be on the market by 2017.

The experimental drug has shown promise in treating late-stage multiple sclerosis, reducing annual rates of relapse of major symptoms, according to

The drug ocrelizumab reduced relapses by almost 50% compared to an older drug, interferon beta-1a (Rebif), in three comprehensive clinical trials, its manufacturer Genentech said.

Genentech, a member of the Swiss Roche group, said the results suggest the drug can be an important new opportunity for treating the debilitating disease.

“The results of these three pivotal trials have the potential to transform the treatment of MS,” said chief medical officer Sandra Horning.

“Ocrelizumab is the first investigational medicine to significantly reduce disability progression in people with relapsing MS and people with primary progressive MS - a form of MS with no approved treatments,” she said.

In two of the studies, which involved 1,656 patients suffering from relapsing multiple sclerosis - the most common form of the condition - the drug reduced the yearly rate of relapse of major symptoms and other markers of the disease’s status, researchers said.

More than 2.3 million people worldwide are afflicted by MS, in which the body’s own immune system attacks the myelin sheaths that cover nerve fibers.

The disease, with symptoms including muscle weakness and cognitive impairment, usually arises between the ages of 20 and 40, and women are more commonly affected than men.