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Wednesday 20th June 2018

MS 'benefits' from cancer pill

30th April 2009

Research has shown that courses of a common cancer drug can dramatically reduce the risk of a patient with multiple sclerosis having a relapse or deterioration.

A UK study focusing on 1,300 patients found that taking cladribine a few times a year more than halved the chances of a relapse.

In addition, there were few side effects.

Manufacturer Merck Serono is hoping to seek licensing for the drug – currently licensed for treating leukaemia – for its extended use this year.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence will consider including cladribine – which works by suppressing the immune system - in its next round of assessments.

Professor Giovannoni of Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, said: "These results are really exciting. MS can be a very debilitating illness and at the moment treatment options remain limited.

"Having an effective oral therapy will have a major impact for people with MS.

"Our study shows that cladribine tablets prevent relapses and slow down the progression of the disease, making patients feel better."

He said the study will continue to follow the patients involved in the trial to monitor their longer term progress.

With 85,000 people in the UK currently having MS, with 2,500 new cases diagnosed each year, the MS Society said following such remarkable results it was now important to see "cladribine move smoothly through the regulatory process."

Dr Lee Dunster, head of research at the MS Society, said the price the manufacturer sets will play a crucial part in that.


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