HealthDay News — The multiple sclerosis (MS) drug alemtuzumab, usually reserved for patients in the late stages of the disease, seems to offer long-term remission in newly diagnosed patients, according to a study published online October 12 in Neurology.

Gavin Giovannoni, MD, PhD, a neurology professor at the Queen Mary University of London, and colleagues treated 628 patients with relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) who had not responded to at least one other MS drug. In the two-year randomized, rater-blinded, active-controlled, head-to-head, phase 3 trial, the team compared alemtuzumab 12mg in 426 patients with subcutaneous interferon-β-1a (SC IFN-β-1a) in 202 patients. The researchers assessed disability levels at the start of the study and every three months for two years. 

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By the study’s end, nearly 28% of those in the alemtuzumab group had improved by at least one point on a 10-point disability test, versus about 15% of those receiving interferon. Alemtuzumab-treated patients had more favorable changes from baseline on Multiple Sclerosis Functional Composite (MSFC), and Sloan low-contrast letter acuity measures. Improvement in MSFC scores for those taking alemtuzumab was mostly related to upper limb coordination and dexterity.

“In patients with RRMS and inadequate response to prior disease-modifying therapies, alemtuzumab provides greater benefits than SC IFN-β-1a across several disability outcomes, reflecting improvement of preexisting disabilities,” the authors conclude.

The trial was funded by Sanofi Genzyme and Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals, the manufacturers of alemtuzumab.

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