Freakin Sweet! New MS Drugs are almost done with trials!

Yet another reason to love living in Los Angeles – today’s article in the Los Angeles Times.
Brendan Borrell reported on several new drugs that are entering their final trial stages.
Fingolimod
This pill-form disease modifying agent deprives T cells of the signal they need to leave lymph nodes, effectively stranding them outside the brain. It was originally created to help people’s bodies accept organ transplants, since it’s an immunomodulator.

At the American Academy of Neurology meeting this year, researchers reported that 173 patients with a relapsing form of MS showed a decline in the relapse rate over 36 months from 0.31 relapses per year to 0.20, a 30% decrease in their relapse rate when they took fingolimod.

Wow, math. That means that most of those patients have 1 relapse every 3 years (lucky ducks!), and that of the patients in the trial, they had 1 relapse every 5 years – which is comparable to the claims made by Copaxone. Since I take Copaxone and give myself an injection every night w/ a painful injection site, if this drug has minimal side effects, this might be great for me.
So what are the side effects? According to WebMD, 70% of MS patients are relapse-free (!!!) After 3 Years on Fingolimod.
The most common side effects have been head colds, headache, and fatigue. But there have also been a few cases of skin cancer, which has also been reported in patients taking Tysabri.
Hrm, skin cancer? That’s a bit worse than flu-like symptoms, I’d say… but no more relapses at all? Is it worth rolling the dice? That’s questionable to me.

In just six months, the number of patients with brain lesions decreased from an average of 2.2 per patient when taking the placebo down to 1.29. In addition, after 36 months, brain scans revealed that 89% of patients had no evidence of inflammation.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but it totally sounds like after 3 years, it is even better than Copaxone for fighting the disease, since Copaxone reduces the number of new lesions by up to 40%. Anyone have a figure on this? I don’t want to misrepresent.
In my research, I found another blogger out there who’s actually on this drug. To find out more, check out Fingolimod and Me You can be sure I’ll be reading up on it.
Alemtuzumab (Campath)
This artificially produced, pure form antibody was designed and approved for fighting leukemia – specifically lymphositic leukemia. If I remember right, my Grandma was actually a part of the initial clinical trial for that drug. How cool would it be if this drug ends up being awesome for MS too?
According to the New England Journal of Medicine, Campath, which is administered by IV infusion, can reduce the relapse rate in early-stage MS patients by two-thirds relative to the standard MS drug Avonex. With all I’ve heard about the flu-like symptoms that accompany that once-a-week intramuscular injection, I wouldn’t want to be on it anyway, so if this drug works better than Avonex by two thirds, why would anyone want to take Avonex?
Well, that’d be because Campath is an infusion rather than a self-administered shot (which means you have to go to the hospital), and unlike flu-like symptoms, one of the potential side effects of Campath is death, just like with Tysabri, blood disorders, allergic reactions, and infections.
Thumbs down for me.
Rituximab
Designed for treating rheumatoid arthritis and Non-Hodgkins lymphoma, this drug (which is administered by infusion) is directed at the immune system’s B cells, rather than T cells, which is a departure from the usual route taken by current disease modifying agents. The common name for this drug is Rituxan.
The most important serious adverse reactions to this drug are fatal infusion reactions, tumor lysis syndrome (TLS), severe mucocutaneous reactions, progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML), hepatitis B reactivation with fulminant hepatitis, other viral infections, cardiovascular events, renal toxicity, and bowel obstruction and perforation. The most common adverse reactions of Rituxan (incidence ≥25%) observed in patients with NHL are infusion reactions, fever, chills, infection, asthenia, and lymphopenia. The most common adverse reactions of Rituxan observed in patients with RA are hypertension, nausea, upper respiratory tract infection, arthralgia, pruritus, and pyrexia.
Yeah, not for me either, but maybe for others! At the very least, it’s a step in the right direction for researching what affects our disease.


If you’re on any of these, are part of clinical trials, or are good friends or family with someone who is, I’d love to hear more from you!

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