MS Research Roundup: July 18, 2014
Alemtuzumab Accepted in Scotland; Safety Testing Begins for Dimethyl Fumarate-like Oral Drug; Racing Belt Sanders for MS Research
MS Research Roundup collects items of interest to multiple sclerosis researchers from around the Web. Send us your tips: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alemtuzumab Accepted in Scotland
The Scottish Medicines Consortium added Lemtrada (alemtuzumab, Genzyme) to the list of treatments available for people with relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) in the country’s National Health Service. The drug leads to a rapid drop in T and B cells and can reduce the frequency and severity of relapses, although the exact mechanism of action is not known. The approval came on the heels of a similar decision by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence for RRMS treatment in England and Wales. The consortium acknowledged potential serious safety concerns and recommended that patients be monitored for 4 years after the final infusion. The FDA initially declined approval in December 2013 and is reviewing a resubmission from the company. (Genzyme, Multiple Sclerosis News Today, Scottish Medicines Consortium)
Phase 1 Clinical Trial Underway for Oral MS Prodrug
In a press release, Irish company Alkermes announced a phase 1 clinical trial for ALKS 8700, a novel monomethyl fumarate molecule the company wants to market as an alternative to dimethyl fumarate (Tecfidera, Biogen Idec). The trial will test the safety of various oral forms of the medication in 125 healthy volunteers. The exact mechanism of dimethyl fumarate is unknown, but it is theorized to inhibit immune cells. Alkermes is pursuing “prodrugs,” which are new molecular entities that capture the established benefits of blockbuster medications and improve patient outcomes or experience. (Market Watch)
Belt Sander Race
A town in northeastern Pennsylvania hosts the most bizarre annual MS fundraiser of all. On a recent sunny July Saturday in Exeter, PA, participants climbed aboard belt sanders with makeshift seats attached to the top, turned them on, and zoomed down a track toward a wall of hay while their teammates jogged alongside, holding the extension cord (video). Thirty-two teams participated in the event. One team raised $1,550. This year, the event attracted over 700 spectators and raised about $8,000 overall. Believe it or not, this event is now a 24-year-old tradition. (Reading Eagle)
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