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New MS drug proves effective where others have failed
Date:10/31/2012

e nerve fibre, resulting in physical and cognitive disabilities. The results of a second phase III clinical trial (CARE MS I) also examined the effectiveness of alemtuzumab against the drug interferon beta-1a but in 581 drug-nave patients.

It found that alemtuzumab reduced the number of attacks experienced by people with relapsing-remitting MS by 55 per cent over and above that achieved by interferon beta-1a. Over a two year period, 78 per cent of patients on alemtuzumab compared to 59 per cent of patients on interferon remained relapse free. The proportion of patients experiencing worsening of disability on this trial was slightly lower after alemtuzumab than interferon beta-1a, but this result was not statistically significant.

For both studies, the principal side-effect of treatment with alemtuzumab was the development of other autoimmune diseases. During the trials, roughly 20 per cent of patients developed thyroid autoimmunity and 1 per cent developed an immune thrombocytopenia. Previous work has shown that up to 30 per cent of patients may develop autoimmune thyroid disease over time.

Laboratory work of the Cambridge research team, led by Dr Coles, is investigating how to detect people who are susceptible to these side-effects (funded by the Freemasons' Grand Charity and the Multiple Sclerosis Society in the UK). Additionally, they are currently recruiting for a trial of alemtuzumab in combination with a novel drug to reduce the risk of autoimmune diseases developing as a side-effect of taking alemtuzumab, funded by the Moulton Charitable Foundation and the Medical Research Council (MRC). Both Professor Alastair Compston and Dr Alasdair Coles are supported by the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre, Cambridge.

"Although alemtuzumab causes potentially serious side-effects, these can be identified and treated provided a monitoring schedule is carefully followed. Additionally, we think that we can identify which patients are at risk of auto
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Contact: Genevieve Maul
Genevieve.maul@admin.cam.ac.uk
44-012-237-65542
University of Cambridge
Source:Eurekalert

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