Scientists are excited by a successful new drug called Ocrelizumab, but just how far along are we in the search for an MS cure?
It’s being called a “miracle drug” — Swiss drugmaker Roche has introduced ocrelizumab, which in recent trials slashed multiple sclerosis relapses by nearly 50 percent. But is this any indication that science is getting closer for a cure for MS?
We recently reported that ocrelizumab had successfully outperformed an older treatment, called Rebif, in preventing a relapse in MS sufferers. The drug also cut the advancement of MS disability by a quarter in the percentage of sufferers who have primary progressive multiple sclerosis, a form of the disease for which there is no approved treatment. And even better, the drug had almost no side effects, making it an incredibly exciting drug for the medical community, and potential big moneymaker for Roche.
As for a cure for multiple sclerosis, things have been a bit more hazy — although there have been plenty of hopeful signs.
There are a total of about 2.3 million MS sufferers around the globe, according to Consumer Affairs report. The condition disrupts the circuitry between the brain and the body, causing the immune system to attack myelin, which forms the insulation around the nerves, and without which the nerves get damaged over time. Damaged nerves can’t relay signals between the body and brain.
Today, the disease can be managed, but the cure remains elusive. Doctors focus on treating the disease by reducing the damage that happens to the brain as a result of the condition, but so far there is not yet a way to actually reverse this damage, thus leading to a cure.
There have been some promising results in recent years: one drug, called anti-LINGI-1 which works by blocking the protein LINGO-1 from attacking myelination, was demonstrated to be safe with no serious side effects in recent human trials. In addition, the drug shows some promise in reversing nerve damage. The drug will move on to Phase 2 to see if they can get continued success, and perhaps one step closer to a cure.