School of Medicine

Experimental drug shows promise as multiple sclerosis treatment

Brain’s shrinking slows with drug

From the WashU School of Medicine News

People with a progressive form of multiple sclerosis (MS) face a gradual decline of brain function that slowly strips away the ability to walk and may cause problems with speech and vision. Available treatments are only modestly effective at slowing the decline.

Now, a phase two clinical trial has shown that the investigational drug ibudilast slows brain shrinkage. While future studies will determine whether the drug relieves symptoms and reduces disability, the results are promising because more pronounced brain shrinkage is associated with more severe neurological symptoms.

“We were encouraged to see positive preliminary results for a progressive MS therapy that also appears safe,” said co-author Robert T. Naismith, MD, an associate professor of neurology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and a member of the steering committee overseeing the study. “A larger phase three study is the next step to evaluate the clinical benefit. If such a trial is positive, this treatment option may be available within the next several years.”

The study was published Aug. 29 in The New England Journal of Medicine.

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