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Standard Treatment of MS is Outperformed by an Experimental Drug


Standard Treatment of MS is Outperformed by an Experimental Drug

Research has reported that no evidence of disease activity four years into a study have been evident in nearly 71% of people with early relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (MS) treated with the experimental multiple sclerosis drug alemtuzumab.

That is twice the percentage of patients treated with Rebif, which is an approved treatment. It seems that some of the safety concerns that emerged earlier in the study have been ironed out.

 

Relapsing-remitting MS accounts for 85% of people who are first diagnosed with MS, according to the U.S. National MS Society. These findings were presented at the annual meeting of the AAN (American Academy of Neurology). Alemtuzumab has also shown to outperform Rebif in the three-year results from the study reported in 2008.

 

However, it has been discovered that nearly ¼ patients who have been treated with alemtuzumab have also developed treatment related thyroid complications. In addition to this, a potentially life-threatening autoimmune condition that has resulted in the death of one patient has developed in 3% of alemtuzumab-treated patients.

 

No new cases of this autoimmune condition called ITP (immune thrombocytopenic purpura) have been reported. It seems that 28% of the patients treated with alemtuzumab have developed thyroid problems. The rate is similar to that mentioned in the 3rd year review. Among the living patients, standard medications have successfully treated all the thyroid and autoimmune problems. There is a question here:

WILL SOMEONE’S MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS (MS) GET WORSE IF HE/SHE DEVELOPS ITP OR THYROID PROBLEMS??

The answer is that the MS won’t get worse. Research has shown that MS will be treated with alemtuzumab more effectively than with Rebif, even if the patient develops thyroid problems or ITP. However, the concerns about the drug’s safety aren’t completely alleviated by the updated results. Additionally, an expert who wasn’t involved with the study urged caution.

 

This is a phase II trial, despite the fact that alemtuzumab is a very promising drug. However, the question of a drug’s effectiveness and safety could only be answered by a phase III trial. Two phase III trials are under way, and their results are expected by the end of the year 2011.

 

ALEMTUZUMAB VS. REBIF FOR MS:

Patients with early, relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis who had not been treated with other MS drugs were involved in the phase II trial. A total of 220 patients were treated with alemtuzumab, while 110 patients were treated with Rebif. The results of the four-year review showed that about 77% of alemtuzumab-treated patients were relapse-free compared with the 49% treated with Rebif.

 

Compared with Rebif, the use of alemtuzumab was associated with a 78% reduced risk of relapse among patients who developed an autoimmune problem. However, patients were eliminated from the study if they got worse in the first few years. Alemtuzumab is approved for the treatment of CLL (chronic lymphocytic leukemia). This medication works by targeting and destroying certain immune cells that usually protect against infection but are believed to be damaged in MS and other autoimmune diseases, which results in healthy tissue destruction.

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Prepared By: Dr. Mehyar Al-Khashroum
Edited By: Miss Araz Kahvedjian




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