Early results indicate treatment can repair nerve damage
WebMD News from HealthDay
By Steven Reinberg
MS, an often disabling disease of the central nervous system, damages myelin, the fatty substance that protects nerves.
Now, for the first time, researchers show evidence of repair of damaged myelin in the human brain, said lead researcher Dr. Diego Cadavid, who is with Massachusetts-based Biogen Idec, which makes the drug and funded the trial.
The trial was the second of three phases required for U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval of the drug, known as anti-LINGO-1.
"These data support our ongoing development of anti-LINGO-1," said Cadavid.
The trial included 82 people with acute optic neuritis, an eye problem that causes inflammation, damage to nerve fibers and loss of myelin within the optic nerve. About half of those with optic neuritis go on to develop multiple sclerosis.
Patients who received the experimental antibody had greater improvement in nerve function than those who received a placebo, the researchers found.
The results are to be presented April 22 at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology in Washington, D.C. Data and conclusions presented at meetings are usually considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.
Still, experts are enthusiastic about the findings.
"Just a few years ago, the idea of nervous system repair was only a dream," said Bruce Bebo, executive vice president for research at the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
"Finding ways to restore myelin holds significant promise as a strategy to restore the function that multiple sclerosis has taken from people and reducing or stopping multiple sclerosis progression," he said.
Dr. Paul Wright, chairman of neurology at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y., said this is "a very exciting" initial trial.
"What they found is really cool," said Wright. "We are not just interested in treating a disease, we are interested in correcting a disease process."
For the study, Cadavid and his colleagues gave patients high doses of steroids before randomly assigning them to anti-LINGO-1 or placebo.
source : New Drug Shows Promise for MS