Breaking News
February 17, 2019 - New method analyzes how single biological cells react to stressful situations
February 17, 2019 - WVU gynecologic oncologist investigates novel treatment for cervical and vaginal cancers
February 17, 2019 - ADHD diagnoses poorly documented
February 17, 2019 - Majority of gender minority youth do not identify with traditional sexual identity labels
February 17, 2019 - AbbVie, Teneobio enter into strategic transaction to develop potential treatment for multiple myeloma
February 17, 2019 - Lower Birth Weight May Up Risk for Psychiatric Disorders
February 17, 2019 - Scientists identify reversible molecular defect underlying rheumatoid arthritis
February 17, 2019 - Moffitt researchers shed light on how CAR T cells function mechanistically
February 16, 2019 - Female Anatomy May Play Big Role in Sperm’s Success
February 16, 2019 - BMI may mediate inverse link between fiber intake, knee OA
February 16, 2019 - Movement impairments in autism can be reversed through behavioral training
February 16, 2019 - Studies address racial disparities in postpartum period and cardiovascular health
February 16, 2019 - Scientists implicate hidden genes in the severity of autism symptoms
February 16, 2019 - Decreased deep sleep linked to early signs of Alzheimer’s disease
February 16, 2019 - Neuroscientists show how the brain responds to texture
February 16, 2019 - Gilead Announces Topline Data From Phase 3 STELLAR-4 Study of Selonsertib in Compensated Cirrhosis (F4) Due to Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH)
February 16, 2019 - What Can I Do About Sweating? (for Teens)
February 16, 2019 - Companies navigate dementia conversations with older workers
February 16, 2019 - Newly developed stem cell technologies show promise for treating PD patients
February 16, 2019 - Collaborative material research could advance self-assembling nanomaterials
February 16, 2019 - Researchers take major step in creating technology that mimics the human brain
February 16, 2019 - Erasing memories associated with cocaine use reduces drug seeking behavior
February 16, 2019 - Artificial intelligence can accurately predict prognosis of ovarian cancer patients
February 16, 2019 - Racial disparities in cancer deaths on the decline for America
February 16, 2019 - FDA authorizes new interoperable insulin pump for children, adults with diabetes
February 16, 2019 - Coexisting Medical Conditions, Smoking Explain PTSD-CVD Link
February 16, 2019 - Skin Cancer Screening: MedlinePlus Lab Test Information
February 16, 2019 - ‘Happiness’ exercises can boost mood in those recovering from substance use disorder
February 16, 2019 - Cell manipulation could soon halt or reverse aging
February 16, 2019 - Pumped Breast Milk Falls Short of Breastfed Version
February 16, 2019 - Men’s porn habits could fuel partners’ eating disorders, study suggests
February 16, 2019 - Rapid progression of age-related diseases may result from formation of vicious cycles
February 16, 2019 - Immune checkpoint molecule protects against future development of cancer
February 16, 2019 - New method produces hydrogels that have properties similar to cells’ environment
February 16, 2019 - $4.1 million funding for heart research on Valentine’s Day
February 16, 2019 - General anesthesia in early infancy unlikely to have lasting effects on developing brains
February 16, 2019 - New breakthroughs for muscular dystrophy research
February 16, 2019 - First Opinion: Embryo editing for higher IQ is a fantasy. Embryo profiling for it is almost here
February 16, 2019 - Vapers develop cancer-related gene deregulation as cigarette smokers
February 16, 2019 - Bringing Antimicrobial Susceptibility Testing (AST) to the Community
February 16, 2019 - Decolonization protocol after hospital discharge can prevent dangerous infections
February 16, 2019 - Children with ASD more likely to face maltreatment, study finds
February 16, 2019 - Study finds genetic vulnerability to use of menthol cigarettes
February 16, 2019 - H-RT should be the standard of care for men with low risk prostate cancer, study shows
February 16, 2019 - New technique using patients’ own modified cells could help treat Crohn’s disease
February 16, 2019 - Therapeutic endoscopy has an expanding role in the treatment of IBD
February 16, 2019 - Blood clot discovery could lead to development of better treatments for blood diseases
February 16, 2019 - Intervention can increase exclusive breastfeeding rates
February 16, 2019 - New project explores how gaming technologies can help cancer patients communicate better
February 16, 2019 - Catalyst Biosciences Presents Updated Data from Its Phase 2/3 Trial of Subcutaneous Marzeptacog Alfa (Activated) in Individuals with Hemophilia A or B with Inhibitors at the 12th Annual EAHAD Congress
February 16, 2019 - Rerouting nerves during amputation reduces phantom limb pain before it starts
February 16, 2019 - A Hormone Produced When We Exercise Might Help Fight Alzheimer’s
February 16, 2019 - Millions of British people breathe toxic air travelling to GPs
February 16, 2019 - Conformance of genetic characteristics found to be crucial for longer preservation of kidney graft
February 16, 2019 - Researchers use optogenetic tool to control, visualize receptor signals in neural cells
February 16, 2019 - New reversible antiplatelet therapy could reduce risk of blood clots, prevent cancer metastasis
February 16, 2019 - Testosterone is not the only hormone needed for penis development
February 16, 2019 - FDA Advisory Committee Recommends Approval of Spravato (esketamine) Nasal Spray for Adults with Treatment-Resistant Depression
February 15, 2019 - Heart surgery technology developed at Baptist Health debuts after years of secrecy
February 15, 2019 - Prescription Opioids Double Risk of Triggering Fatal Car Crash
February 15, 2019 - New study helps doctors better understand high blood pressure in pregnant women
February 15, 2019 - Beta wave control in Parkinson’s diseased brain could be a potential therapy
February 15, 2019 - Media representations of love may justify gender-based violence in young people
February 15, 2019 - Yoga May Help With Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms, Severity
February 15, 2019 - Obstructive sleep apnea linked to inflammation, organ dysfunction
February 15, 2019 - Master your mind: A challenge from WELL for Life
February 15, 2019 - Why Some Brain Tumors Respond to Immunotherapy
February 15, 2019 - Must-Reads Of The Week From Brianna Labuskes
February 15, 2019 - Researchers uncover novel mechanism and potential new therapeutic target for Alzheimer’s
February 15, 2019 - Genetic variations in a fourth gene associated with higher ALL risk in Hispanic children
February 15, 2019 - Disruptive behavioral problems in kindergarten linked with lower employment earnings in adulthood
February 15, 2019 - New bioengineered device enhances the production of T-cells
February 15, 2019 - HDL proteome behaves like a tiny Velcro ball that is rolling on surfaces
February 15, 2019 - Puerto Rican children more likely to have poor or decreasing use of asthma inhalers
February 15, 2019 - Quality of patient care does not improve after physician-hospital integration
February 15, 2019 - Synopsys release new software for implant design and patient-specific planning
February 15, 2019 - 6 out of 10 hip replacements last 25 years or longer
February 15, 2019 - Health Tip: What You Should Know About Antibiotics
February 15, 2019 - New research challenges medical consensus that adenoids and tonsils significantly shrink during teenage years
February 15, 2019 - Discovery of weakness in a rare cancer could be exploited with drugs
New Drug Shows Promise for Progressive Form of MS

New Drug Shows Promise for Progressive Form of MS

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print

Source: Getty Images

In a phase 2 clinical trial, an investigational anti-inflammatory drug called ibudilast was found to be superior to placebo in slowing the progression of brain atrophy in patients with progressive multiple sclerosis. The study, conducted at 28 sites around the country, including Columbia University Irving Medical Center, was published last month in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Why it Matters

About a dozen drugs have been approved for the treatment of relapsing-remitting MS, but few therapies are available for the progressive stage of the disease.

“We’re very encouraged by the results. This opens a new avenue of hope for patients with progressive MS, which has been very difficult to treat,” says study co-author Claire S. Riley, MD, assistant professor of neurology at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and medical director of the Multiple Sclerosis Center at Columbia.


MS is characterized by a breakdown of myelin, a fatty substance that surrounds axons (part of the nerve cell that transmits signals between brain cells). When myelin degrades, communication between brain cells slows down, causing symptoms such as muscle weakness and problems with thinking and memory. In the most common form of the disease, relapsing-remitting MS, symptoms occur then disappear for weeks or months. Most people with relapsing-remitting disease eventually develop secondary progressive MS, in which symptoms worsen as the brain atrophies. About 15 percent of MS patients have primary progressive MS, in which the disease progresses with the onset of symptoms, without early relapses or remissions. MS is estimated to affect 400,000 people in the United States and 2 million people worldwide.

This opens a new avenue of hope for patients with progressive MS, which has been very difficult to treat.

Ibudilast, which is made by MediciNova, has been marketed in South Korea and Japan since 1989 for the treatment of dizziness after stroke and bronchial asthma. In the United States, it is being studied as a treatment for ALS (another neurodegenerative disorder) and for drug addiction.

What’s New

In this trial, 255 patients with primary or secondary progressive MS were randomized to receive oral ibudilast or placebo for almost two years. The patients ranged in age from 18 to 65, with an average disease duration of 12 years. Using magnetic resonance imaging, the researchers found that patients taking ibudilast had 48 percent less brain atrophy compared with controls. The drug was well tolerated but was associated with higher rates of gastrointestinal side effects, headache, and depression than placebo.

What it Means

Ibudilast appears to be safe and effective for the treatment of patients with progressive MS, although phase 3 clinical trials must demonstrate the drug’s effectiveness in clinical outcomes before it can receive FDA approval. 

What’s Next 

MedicaNova is currently looking at opportunities to begin phase 3 trials of ibudilast in patients with progressive MS.


This study looked at brain volume, not symptoms. However, brain shrinkage in MS is usually associated with declines in physical and cognitive function. “We can detect brain volume changes more accurately than changes in physical or cognitive function, which is why the study used brain volume change as the primary outcome,” explains Riley. “This allowed us to obtain results over a shorter period of time with fewer patients. Further studies are needed to determine if ibudilast has any effect on symptoms or neurologic disability.”

The drug was tested only in patients with progressive MS, not those with relapsing-remitting disease. If phase 3 trials prove that ibudilast is effective for those with progressive MS, it may be considered for use in a broader swath of the MS population, says Riley.

More Info

The study, “Phase 2 Trial of Ibudilast in Progressive Multiple Sclerosis,” was published Aug. 30, 2018, in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Claire S. Riley is assistant professor of neurology and medical director of the Multiple Sclerosis Center at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons.

The other authors are listed in the paper.

The study was supported by grants from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (U01NS082329), the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and MediciNova.

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles