Multiple sclerosis affects 400,000 Americans, and millions more around the globe. Despite the gravity of the infliction however, until now treatments have been limited due to the mysterious nature of MS, indeed, scientists still aren’t sure what causes it.
A new drug, called Ocrelizumab may be able to offer a highly effective treatment option. So far, the drug has shown huge amounts of promise in three separate late-stage trials.
Developed by pharmaceutical company Roche, the data gained so far from the trials has been very positive.
Currently, the most effective treatment for MS is a drug called Rebif. While Rebif can provide release for regular cases of MS, it has proven to be ineffective against primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS), which affects roughly 15 percent of MS patients.
In regards to PPMS, Ocrelizumab has so far proven to be very effective at both treating the disease and slowing its progression. Let’s dig into the data.
Researchers came to this conclusion after closely following 732 patients suffering from the less common but extremely serious primary progressive multiple sclerosis. The study found that as many as 10 percent of patients suffered from side effects.
Ocrelizumab has so far proven effective at preventing many MS suffers from relapsing. Results so far indicate that the drug delivers a 46% and 47% reduction in relapse rates (annualised).
The new drug is a humanized monoclonal antibody, allowing it attach more closely to its target than competing drugs. Patients saw a 24 percent decrease in disease progression over 12 weeks, and 25 percent decrease over 24 weeks.
In two of the trials, 1,656 patients with recurring multiple sclerosis were closely monitored, and on the whole Ocrelizumab proved to be far more effective at treating MS than existing treatments.
Currently, 15 percent of MS patients report suffering from primary progressive multiple sclerosis and there is no approved treatment for the disease. Ocrelizumab may be able to finally give patients suffering from PPMS the treatment they need.
Multiple sclerosis explained
Globally, MS affects at least 2.3 million people, making it one of the most widespread chronic diseases. When people suffer from multiple sclerosis, their immune system begins to attack the protective coverings of their nerves, and particularly, the fatty, protective layers called myelin. As of yet, no one knows why the immune system turns on the nerves. What is know is that as the myelin is attacked, scar tissues begins to build up, causing communicative problems between the nerves.
Scientists suspect that some people are genetically predisposed to it, and that the disease itself is triggered by some unknown environmental factors. Still, nothing is proven.
While multiple sclerosis is not considered to be a fatal disease, but instead a chronic one, researchers have found a strong tie between MS and increased suicide rates. If Ocrelizumab is able to deliver on its promises, these risks may subside.
For most patients, common symptoms include pain, discomfort, muscle stiffness, and trouble with motor skills. When severe MS sets in, however, symptoms go far beyond the normal aches and pains. Speech patterns, bowel movements, even cognitive functioning can all be affected. Ultimately, patients can be left all but bed-ridden.
With Ocrelizumab, MS might become a controllable chronic disease.