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MS drug hope for secondary-progressive stage

Published 23 Mar 2018

MS drug hope for secondary-progressive stage

A study of a new drug to treat advanced cases of multiple sclerosis suggests it may be possible to delay progression of the disease in the short term, although the effects were small.

In a trial of 1,327 people, in The Lancet, 26% saw their disability worsen after three months taking siponimod compared with 32% taking a dummy drug.

'Modest effect'

Patients in this trial, which was funded by drug company Novartis, had had MS for an average of 17 years - four years with secondary MS, the advanced stage.

Most needed assistance with walking before the trial began.

When standard measures of disability were used to track their progress, there was a 21% lower risk of walking or arm movements getting worse for those given the drug, compared with those taking the placebo.

But the international research team found the drug had no effect on maintaining patients' walking speed and it had some side-effects, although it was still thought to be safe.

Lead author Prof Ludwig Kappos, from the University of Basel, said: "Although the results are not as good as we wanted to see, it is a very large study, which is robust. It means siponimod is one option to delay the disease in the advanced stage."

Dr Susan Kohlhaas, director of research at the MS Society, said: "These results bring us closer to the first ever treatment for people with secondary-progressive MS - so it's big news. This trial showed that siponimod had a modest but significant effect in slowing disability progression, which is incredibly encouraging."

'Disappointing'

But Dr Luanne Metz, from the University of Calgary, in Canada, said a second trial was needed to confirm the benefits of the drug and its impact beyond three to six months.

She said: "Although siponimod seems to reduce the time to confirmed disability in secondary-progressive MS, the treatment effect was small. In our opinion... the absence of a significant difference for the key secondary clinical outcome are disappointing results and do not suggest that siponimod is an effective treatment for secondary-progressive MS."

She added: "Trials of other novel treatments that target non-inflammatory mechanisms are still needed."

Before the drug becomes available on the NHS, it would need to be approved by the European Medicines Agency and then recommended as cost-effective by bodies in the UK.

BBC Health News

11 comments


judiea
on 26/03/2018

I am very interested in the drug to help with m s secondary progressive as my husband has this type also to see if there is a way that would help control the symptoms and help with the stiff ness in the hands 


Helenski
on 02/04/2018

I have SPMS and it has completely turned my life upside down.  Keep having lots of falls, am covered in bruises...I absolutely hate it 😕 Am waiting for something, anything, to help me deal with it all...:-(  


Walshya
on 02/04/2018

I have SPMS and there seems to be nothing out there for us. I’ve had SPMS for 20 odd years. I dream of having a day off from symptoms. I hope one day soon they find something so just for one day I feel like any other fifty one year old!!!


Linz1978
on 02/04/2018

I have spms and I have been taking CBD oil for the last month, I have found I am sleeping ALL night had no painkillers what so ever!! And my walking and speech have improved. So I think I will continue with it, 100% legal no side effects so it’s a win win situation 😊


Friendlylynn
on 09/04/2018

From reading the results shown above, I fail to see that anything has to date been actually achieved to help any one like myself with SPMS and cannot see the relevance of this being written on here as of much use.

Just giving the impression that there is a small breakthrough that is in fact far from true!

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