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Encouraging results from ozanimod drug trial

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Ozanimod is a drug that works in a similar way to Gilenya (fingolimod) but with fewer side effects according to recently published research.

Researchers in America and Europe compared two different doses of ozanimod with placebo in 258 people with relapsing remitting MS.  The main outcome measure of the trial was a reduction in the number of new lesions visible on MRI scans.  The groups taking ozanimod had an average of 1.5 new lesions compared to 11.1 in the placebo group.

Gilenya is a type of drug called a sphingosine 1-phosphate receptor (S1PR) modulator.  It works by trapping white blood cells in the lymph glands, which prevents them from crossing into the central nervous system and causing inflammation and damage to nerves.  Ozanimod is one of several drugs in development that work in a similar way.  Researchers are trying to match the effectiveness of Gilenya but with fewer side effects.

Some people experience changes in their heart rate, heart beat and blood pressure when they first start Gilenya.  This effect was seen to a smaller degree in the ozanimod trial with researchers calling it a "mild blunting of the normal circadian increase in heart rate".  There were no cases of macular oedema, a swelling in the back of the eye, which is a rarer side effect of Gilenya.  However, the number of people in this phase II trial is relatively small and the drug will need to be tested with larger numbers to have a better idea of its effects.

More references

  • Cohen JA, et al. Safety and efficacy of the selective sphingosine 1-phosphate receptor modulator ozanimod in relapsing multiple sclerosis (RADIANCE): a randomised, placebo-controlled, phase 2 trial. Lancet Neurology 2016:15(4);373-381. Summary