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New Pill for MS Shows Promise in Clinical Trial
Date:4/12/2011

By Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, April 11 (HealthDay News) -- A new oral medication for the treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS) shows promise in slowing disease progression, limiting brain atrophy and reducing MS relapses, a recently completed two-year clinical trial demonstrates.

The findings concern the experimental drug laquinimod, and stem from work with over 1,100 MS patients at 139 medical facilities in 24 countries.

The study found that to date, the new drug appears to be both safe and well-tolerated. If the experimental medication is eventually approved for use, it would be only the second oral MS drug available to patients, alongside a number of long-standing injectable options.

"The injectables aren't going to go away," commented Dr. Scott S. Zamvil, a professor of neurology and faculty member in the program in immunology at the University of California, San Francisco. "We went 17 years with injectables before we got our first oral option, 'Gilenya', just last year. But there's a lot of excitement about this new option and these results, because even though the injectables are safe and effective in terms of convenience and patient compliance, oral drugs are much better than shots."

"And with the one oral option we have today, there has been a lot of concern over a possible risk for immune suppression and also an increased risk for cancer," added Zamvil, who was not a part of the current study team. "That does not seem to be the case with this new drug. So this appears to be a significant advance forward."

The current research was funded by Teva Pharmaceuticals, the maker of laquinimod.

The lead study author is Dr. Giancarlo Comi, director of the department of neurology and the Institute of Experimental Neurology at the Scientific Institute and University Vita-Salute San Raffaele in Milan, Italy. He is slated to present his team's findings this week in Honolulu at the Americ
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