Major progress has been made in the treatment of multiple sclerosis in recent years. People with a relapsing-remitting MS course have a very good chance of living without or with only minor disabilities, if a diagnosis is made swiftly after the first signs of the disease and those affected are treated consistently.
An exception is the secondary progressive phase of MS, which occurs in the majority of MS sufferers after an average of 15 to 20 years. In people with secondary progressive MS, the disability continues to progress, and there is no treatment that can stop this course. Now, for the treatment of secondary progressive MS, the efficacy of a drug has been demonstrated for the first time. This emerges from a clinical phase II study, which was designed in the lead of the University Hospital Basel and published in the British journal “The Lancet”. The study shows that the drug siponimod can stop the progression of the disease. Siponimod belongs to the group of S1P modulators and is administered as a tablet.
The therapy study included 1645 patients with advanced secondary progressive multiple sclerosis in 31 countries. It is the first major clinical study ever to investigate the effect of a drug on the increase in disability in MS in the secondary progressive phase of MS. The international research team under the direction of Ludwig Kappos, Head of the Neurological Clinic and Polyclinic at the University Hospital Basel and professor at the University of Basel, compared the efficacy of Siponimod with a dummy treatment.
It was found that siponimod-treated patients were less likely to experience disability progression compared to placebo between 21 and 26 percent after a median of 18 months. The number of disease centers measured in magnetic resonance imaging as well as the decrease in brain volume were significantly lower with siponimod. Overall, the drug was well tolerated.