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New Drug Cuts MS Relapses By 80%, Finds Study

November 1, 2011

A new multiple sclerosis drug has been found to cut the chance of having a relapse by four-fifths.

Swiss scientists found those given 600mg of the drug daily, called ocrelizumab, had an 80 per cent reduced chance per year of having a debilitating attack.

The study looked at 218 patients aged 18 to 55, of which a third were randomly assigned a placebo, a third a 600mg dose of the drug, and a third a 2000mg dose.

Writing in The Lancet, the authors of the report concluded that the drug “rapidly suppresses inflammatory activity” around the brain, which cause neurological problems in sufferers.

The drug is still at an explanatory stage, and bigger trials are needed to confirm its effect.

There are also question marks over its safety. Last year Roche, its maker, had to pull clinical trials in rheumatoid arthritis and lupus after some volunteers died of “opportunistic infections”.

But Dr Jayne Spink, director of policy and research at the MS Society, said: “These results are really promising for people with relapsing-remitting MS. If this drug proves successful in larger trials, it stands to increase the range of safe and effective treatments that are available.”

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