Firategrast effective at reducing relapse rates
13 January 2012
Author: MS Trust
Higher doses of firategrast produced a 49% reduction in the number of active lesions visible on MRI scans.
Firategrast is an experimental oral treatment for relapsing remitting MS. Like natalizumab (Tysabri), firategrast is though to work by preventing certain immune cells from passing through the walls of blood vessels into the central nervous system.
This phase II study enrolled 343 people with relapsing remitting MS. Participants took placebo or one of several doses of firategrast for 24 weeks. Only the higher doses, 900mg twice daily for women or 1200mg twice daily for men, significantly reduced the number of active MS lesions seen in MRI scans, by 49% compared to placebo. While side effects occurred equally in all treatment groups, urinary tract infections were more common in the high-dose firategrast group.
No cases of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) or reactivation of JC virus were detected. PML is a rare but very serious side effect of natalizumab treatment, thought to be caused by the JC virus.
The researchers conclude that their results suggest possible effectiveness for the highest tested dose, and that further investigation of oral drugs of this class is warranted.
Miller DH, et al.
Firategrast for relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis: a phase 2, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.
Lancet Neurology 2012 6 January [Epub ahead of print].