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MS Drug Shows Early Signs of Success in Trial, Cutting Relapse Rate by 36 Percent

Update Date: Mar 20, 2013 05:14 PM EDT

A clinical trial evaluating the effectiveness of a new drug for multiple sclerosis, MS revealed positive findings today. The company, Biogen Idec stated that its two-year long phase III drug trial composing of 1,516 participants with MS found that the treatment option reduced the chance for a relapse by 39 percent when compared to the placebo treatment group. Although the treatment will not be approved as of yet, the results promise a new and effective treatment option for those who suffer from this brain disease.

Current treatment options for MS use Interferon Beta - 1a, which is successful in slowing down the progress of the disease. Interferon Beta - 1a has been proven to also reduce the chances of relapses in patients by 18 to 38 percent. MS is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the body's immune system starts to attack the central nervous system mistaking those cells as something threatening. This disease attacks and kills the brain's neurons and can lead to paralysis. The drug in the clinical trial took the standard Interferon Beta - 1a drug and added polyethylene glycol groups, which help keep the drug in the system longer so that it can be more effective in fighting against MS. The modification makes it harder for the immune system to find the drug in the system, and therefore, the body will not naturally excrete it faster. The company states that keeping the drug in the body's system longer is safe and non-toxic.

The new drug will be called Plegridy and it was administered to the experimental group every two weeks. The drug resulted in positive results and a lower percentage of relapse.

"These full first-year results provide a more complete picture of PLEGRIDY and its positive effects on the reduction of relapse, disability progression and lesion development. These data suggest that, if approved, PLEGRIDY may offer the benefit of a less frequent dosing schedule, which would be a meaningful advance for people living with MS," the director of the John Hopkins Multiple Sclerosis Center, Peter Calabresi, MD said.

Regulatory proceedings regarding this drug will start in the United States and the European Union. 

The findings were announced at the American Academy of Neuroscience meeting. 

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