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Multiple Sclerosis Drug in Trials Reduces Relapse

multiple sclerosis drug and relapse

A potential new multiple sclerosis drug has been shown to significantly reduce relapse rate. In addition, results of the six-month Phase 2 trial also indicated two other important findings.


The new multiple sclerosis drug, which is named RPC1063, not only reduced the annualized relapse rate among the study participants; it also was associated with a major decline in the development of new brain damage and caused nearly no one to drop out of the study because of side effects.

The research team included scientists from various Scripps Research locations in the United States. A total of 258 individuals with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis participated in the trial. Here’s a brief summary of their findings:

  • Compared with placebo, use of the new multiple sclerosis drug resulted in up to a 53 percent decline in the annualized relapse rate
  • Use of RPC1063 resulted in a decline in the development of new brain damage (as noted using magnetic resonance imaging) by more than 90 percent
  • More than 98 percent of the participants who took the drug did not stop because of adverse responses to the medication. This is a significant finding because many drugs for multiple sclerosis are associated with significant side effects.

As is customary, the road to drug approval is long. Although RPC1063 is currently involved in a Phase 3 double-blind, randomized trial that includes 1,200 individuals with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis, the results are not expected until 2017.

What else may reduce relapses?
Another recent study found that a type of estrogen called estriol could reduce the relapse rate in women with multiple sclerosis. In the study, the patients were also taking Copaxone (glatiramer) and the benefit was observed after one year of treatment with both the drug and hormone.

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These results were reported from a Phase 2 clinical trial, and therefore more research is needed before this combination of treatments may be used to lower relapse rates. Given that a female hormone was used in the study, no males were involved.

In addition to a reduction in the relapse rate, the women in the study who took the combination treatment also showed higher scores on cognitive functioning tests. This is not surprising since previous research has shown that estrogen can help protect the female brain from cognitive challenges such as memory loss and other mental dysfunctions.

Among the MS treatments already approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and that may reduce the relapse rate is Tecfidera (dimethyl fumarate). In the natural medicine category, a combination of vitamins A and E along with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids has been shown to be somewhat effective in lowering the rate of relapse.

Although there is yet no cure for multiple sclerosis, a variety of both conventional and alternative and complementary treatments are available that may reduce relapse rates, mitigate symptoms, and slow progression of the disease. Keeping up with all of the options can be challenging, yet the good news is that the search continues.

Scripps Research Institute