New MS Pill Shows Promise In Reducing Disease Relapse

A new little pill is showing promise and hope for a number of people suffering from the autoimmune disease multiple sclerosis. This new pill may just change the lives of people with MS and improve their quality of life while learning to live with the usually debilitating disease.

A major clinical trial of an oral drug called Cladribine shows results that it can effectively reduce relapse and deterioration of MS, according to researchers at Queen Mary, University of London. The oral pill does away with the unpleasant side effects usually associated with current existing therapies for the said disease.

Cladribine holds the promise to become the very first treatment in oral form for multiple sclerosis. Current treatments require the need for regular injections and intravenous infusions that MS patients have to endure. Cladribine only needs to be taken orally between 8 to 10 days each year and has fewer side effects.

The clinical trial for Cladribine, which was led by Prof. Gavin Giovannoniat Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, involved more than 1,300 MS patients and two years of follow ups and monitoring with MRI scans. The participants in the trial were either given two or four short courses of Cladribine each year or a placebo. A single treatment course consists of one or two tablets a day for four to five days.

Results of the trial showed that participants who took Cladribine were more than 55 percent less likely to suffer from an MS relapse and 30 percent less likely to suffer from worsening disabilities as a result of MS.

"The introduction of an oral therapy, particularly one that has no short term side effects and is as easy to use as oral Cladribine, will have a major impact on the treatment of MS", says Prof. Giovannoni.

"However, the use of this drug as a first line therapy will have to be weighed up against the potential long term risks which have yet to be defined", he further adds.

Source: Queen Mary, University of London. "Little Pill Means Big News in the Treatment of Multiple Sclerosis." ScienceDaily 20 January 2010. 25 January 2010