Ibudilast (also known as MN-166) is being developed for progressive MS by MediciNova. It is currently in phase 2 clinical trials.

Current phase of trial: Phase 2

Type of MS: Progressive MS

How does ibudilast work?

Ibudilast is a phosphodiesterase inhibitor. It is thought to have anti-inflammatory effects and to protect against cell death, which may be beneficial in MS in reducing nerve cell loss.

How is ibudilast taken?

Ibudilast is taken as an oral pill.

Latest research

SPRINT-MS phase 2 clinical trial

This phase 2 trial involved 250 people with primary and secondary progressive MS. Initial results were announced in October 2017. Ibudilast was reported to be safe and to significantly reduce brain shrinkage (atrophy) compared with placebo.

The trial compared taking ibudilast twice a day for three months with placebo. Ibudilast was added to either Copaxone or beta interferon treatment, or taken on its own. 

Earlier Research

Phase 2 trial in relapsing MS

This phase 2 trial tested the benefits of two doses (30 and 60 mg/day) of ibudilast compared with placebo. Ibudilast did not reduce relapse rate or the number of new lesions on MRI scans. But results did suggest that ibudilast might have a neuroprotective effect, as fewer of those taking ibudilast had confirmed disease progression at the end of the study. Ibudilast also reduced brain atrophy (shinkage).

The trial involved 297 people with relapsing MS, results were published in 2010.

What are the side effects of ibudilast?

Generally, ibudilast was well tolerated with the most common side effects being cold-like symptoms, headache and urinary tract infection.

How does ibudilast compare with current therapies?

Ibudilast has not been directly compared with different therapies for the treatment of MS.

When is ibudilast likely to become available?

Ibudilast is currently in phase 2 trials for progressive MS. Initial results from the phase 2 trial look positive, but ibudilast still needs to go through larger phase 3 trials to fully test its effectiveness in progressive MS before it can be licensed.

In March 2016 it was announced that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), responsible for licensing drugs in the US, have granted ibudilast fast track status. This is designed to speed up the development and review of new treatments. It will enable MediciNova (the company developing ibudilast) to meet with the FDA more frequently and to submit applications for review earlier than they normally would.

We'll keep you informed on the progress of ibudilast.

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