More MS news articles for Sep 2001

Novuspharma Cancer Drug May Help in MS

LONDON (Reuters Health) Sept 13 - Preclinical research suggests an experimental antineoplastic drug being developed by Italian biotechnology company Novuspharma may also have a role in fighting multiple sclerosis (MS), Belgian researchers reported in a poster presentation at the European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis congress in Dublin.

Data presented by scientists from the National Multiple Sclerosis Center and the University of Leuven on Thursday showed that BBR2778 reduced the incidence of neurological symptoms in an animal model of MS by more than 50% compared with placebo.

Interferon alpha and glatiramer acetate, both immunomodulators, are currently approved to treat MS in its relapsing-remitting form. Immunex Corp.'s cancer drug mitoxantrone (Novantrone) was approved last year for patients with secondary progressive MS. But mitoxantrone has been linked to delayed cardiotoxicity and is contraindicated for patients with serious heart problems, liver disease and certain blood disorders as well as for pregnant women.

BBR2778 is an intercalating agent structurally related to mitoxantrone, and is reportedly free of cardiotoxicity, Dr. Richard Gonsette and colleagues told participants at the Dublin meeting.

Dr. Gonsette's group tested the efficacy of the drug in a mouse model of acute experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE).

The researchers administered the drug intraperitoneally at various doses for 10 days in 40 mice. They found it exerted "a protective effect similar to that of mitoxantrone." Drug treatment delayed disease onset of symptoms and reduced mortality, they said.

"BBR2778 has been shown to exert profound beneficial effects on the course of acute EAE in absence of cardiotoxicity," the researchers wrote. "If this benefit is confirmed in the chronic relapsing model, this might pave the way for preliminary clinical trials with BBR2778 as a substitute for mitoxantrone."

BBR2778, Novuspharma's lead product, is currently in intermediate Phase II trials for treating non-Hodgkin's lymphoma but Silvano Spinelli, Novuspharma's chief executive, said in a statement that the company would "actively pursue" other potential uses.

Copyright © 2001 Reuters Ltd