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Small trial shows daclizumab add-on therapy improves MS outcome

A small clinical trial of patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) who did not respond to interferon alone found that adding the human antibody daclizumab improved patient outcome. Patients who received the combined therapy had a 78 percent reduction in new brain lesions and a 70 percent reduction in total lesions, along with other significant clinical improvements. The trial was led by investigators at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), a component of the National Institutes of Health. Findings will appear in the Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences1 the week of May 24-28, 2004.

MS is a chronic disease marked by inflammation in the central nervous system and development of lesions in the brain. Messages from the brain to the body are interrupted as nerve fibers begin to lose their protective coating of myelin, resulting in muscle weakness, problems with vision and coordination, pain, and, in some patients, cognitive impairments. Approximately 250,000 to 350,000 people in the United States suffer from MS and about 200 new cases are diagnosed by physicians each week. There is no cure for the disorder.

NINDS investigator Roland Martin, M.D., and colleagues studied 11 patients with either relapsing-remitting 2 or secondary progressive 3 MS. Each patient was treated with beta interferon - a naturally occurring antiviral protein commonly used to treat MS. Patients also received 7 treatments of daclizumab (a genetically engineered human antibody that blocks the interleukin-2 receptor on immune cells) administered intravenously at 2-week, and later, 4-week intervals.

Ten patients showed a reduction in both the severity and number of brain lesions as demonstrated by magnetic resonance imaging. The decrease in new lesions, as well as the total decrease in lesions, occurred gradually over a 2-month span. Improvement was also seen on a neurological
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Contact: Paul Girolami
301-496-5751
NIH/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
24-May-2004


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