New drug shown to slow progression in secondary progressive MS

Published date: 17 Sep 2016 at 10:00AM

Siponimod can slow down the progression of secondary progressive MS, results from the EXPAND trial have revealed.

The trial involved 1,651 people with secondary progressive MS. In this trial siponimod was found to reduce the risk of disability progression by 21% compared with the placebo. Disability progression was measured using the Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS).

Siponimod also significantly reduced the rate of brain atrophy (shrinkage) and the number of relapses people experienced.

This is the largest trial of a treatment for secondary progressive MS so far.

How does siponimod work?

Siponimod works by stopping certain types of immune cells, called B and T cells, from getting into the brain and spinal cord, where they can cause damage to the protective myelin coating around nerves. It is a tablet that is taken once a day.

Next steps

Novartis, the pharmaceutical company developing siponimod, have said that they will now finish analysing the results and will publish them in a scientific journal. They are also planning to consult with health authorities on the next steps for this treatment.

For siponimod to be available for people with secondary progressive MS, these results will need to be submitted to the European Medicines Agency to begin the licensing process. The treatment will then be evaluated by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), who will decide whether to make this treatment available on the NHS in England and Wales.

A big moment for people with MS

Dr Emma Gray, our Interim Assistant Director of Research, said: “This is hugely encouraging news for people with MS. There are 100,000 people with MS in the UK, the majority of whom will develop secondary progressive MS - a more advanced form of the condition for which there are no effective treatments to stop it worsening.

"While these results aren’t yet published, they represent real progress towards finding an urgently needed licensed therapy.”

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Image credit to ZEISS Microscopy on Flickr

Page last updated: 28 Oct 2016

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