Successful clinical trial results by Bay Area researchers was released Thursday on a new drug that shows promise to become the first drug to treat a devastating progressive form of multiple sclerosis (MS).
Roche Holding AG’s Genetech unit announced that the experimental drug ocrelizumab proved effective in three studies against MS, reports The Wall Street Journal.
The findings in the late-phase trials of ocrelizumab find that the drug greatly reduces symptoms for progressive MS as well as a more common form of the degenerative disease, known as relapsing and remitting multiple sclerosis, which affects nearly 85 percent of MS patients.
Treatments exist for the more common form of the disease, characterized by periodic flare-ups followed by partial or complete recovery. There is no drug approved as of now to treat MS that worsens after diagnosis.
University of California neurologist Stephen Hauser calls the study results “dramatic” and says, “It’s the first time there has been a drug proven to work for people with progressive MS.” Hauser has studied MS for 35 years and will present the findings of the study at a meeting of the European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis in Barcelona this Friday and Saturday.
The results are dramatic. It’s the first time there has been a drug proven to work for people with progressive MS.
The manufacturer of the drug, South San Francisco’s Genentech, plans to apply for approval of the drug to treat both forms of the disease with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration early next year, reports The Orange County Register.
In two of the studies, which included 1,656 patients with the more common form of relapsing MS, ocrelizumab had better results than the commonly used Rebif to reduce the annual rate of relapse of the disease.
Less than 10 percent of the participants suffered from serious side effects on either drug.
A third study, which included 732 patients with primary progressive MS, ocrelizumab was more effective than a placebo in reducing the progression of the disease.
This is the first time a drug has shown effective benefits in the more serious form of major sclerosis, the researchers said.
In an unrelated study, researchers discovered that a drug used for cancer patients could help restore memories in Alzheimer’s patients.