An investigational oral compound to treat multiple sclerosis (MS) is more effective than an approved, injected medication, according to a new study published in The New England Journal of Medicine.
Principal Investigator Jeffrey Cohen, M.D., of Cleveland Clinic’s Mellen Center, and his team analyzed the results of a Phase III trial of a compound called fingolimod or FTY720. More than 1,200 patients with relapsing-remitting MS took part in the multinational study sponsored by Novartis.
“In our study, fingolimod was more effective than interferon beta-1a, an approved, standard medication, in reducing relapses and MRI lesion activity and lessening the loss of brain tissue as a result of MS,” Dr. Cohen said. “The study found it to be a well-tolerated compound in pill form and may represent another treatment option for people living with MS.”
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is thought to be an autoimmune disease, in which the immune system mistakenly attacks normal tissues in the body. In MS, these attacks are aimed at the myelin in the central nervous system.
The central nervous system, which includes the brain and spinal cord, is made up of nerves that act as the body’s messenger system. Each nerve is covered by a fatty substance called myelin, which insulates the nerves and helps in the transmission of nerve impulses, or messages between the brain and other parts of the body.
MS gets its name from the buildup of scar tissue (sclerosis) located in more than one area (multiple) of the brain and/or spinal cord.
Dr. Cohen said the Phase III trial results indicate that fingolimod protects brain tissue from further deterioration from MS and may increase the body’s ability to repair the damage.
Dr. Cohen conducts research for Novartis and is a paid consultant for the company.
About Cleveland Clinic
Cleveland Clinic, located in Cleveland, Ohio, is a not-for-profit multispecialty academic medical center that integrates clinical and hospital care with research and education. Cleveland Clinic was founded in 1921 by four renowned physicians with a vision of providing outstanding patient care based upon the principles of cooperation, compassion and innovation. U.S. News & World Report consistently names Cleveland Clinic as one of the nation’s best hospitals in its annual “America’s Best Hospitals” survey. About 2,000 full-time salaried physicians and researchers and 7,600 nurses at Cleveland Clinic represent more than 100 medical specialties and subspecialties. In addition to its main campus, Cleveland Clinic operates nine regional hospitals in Northeast Ohio, Cleveland Clinic Florida, the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas and Cleveland Clinic Canada. In 2008, there were more than 4.2 million visits throughout the Cleveland Clinic health system and 165,000 hospital admissions. Patients came for treatment from every state and from more than 80 countries. Visit Cleveland Clinic at clevelandclinic.org.