AHN specialists study new treatment for relapsing multiple sclerosis
“For those living with multiple sclerosis who know that their disease will eventually rob them of the ability to function independently, the more options we can give them to slow the disease process and allow them to live a somewhat normal life, the better,” said Dr. Desai.
July 21, 2022
Doctors from the Allegheny Health Network (AHN), led by neurologist Troy Desai, MD, are exploring the use of a new drug to treat relapsing or primary progressive multiple sclerosis (MS). AHN is one of more than 276 participants worldwide in the FENhance study, a Phase III clinical trial to evaluate the safety and efficacy of the drug Fenebrutinib against an approved comparator drug for the disease.
Multiple sclerosis is a disease that occurs when the body’s immune system malfunctions, attacking the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves of the central nervous system. It is the leading cause of nervous system-related disability in young people, typically striking between the ages of 20 and 40. In the United States, approximately one million people have MS, with women two to three times more likely to develop the disease than men.
One of the drugs in this study, fenebrutinib, is designed to enter the central nervous system to block the activity of Bruton’s tyrosine kinase, an enzyme that plays a key role in activating B cells that can trigger an inflammatory immune response. The other drug, teriflunomide, has already been tested and approved by the FDA for the treatment of multiple sclerosis and has been available for people with MS since 2013.
“MS symptoms are unpredictable and include numbness, tingling, mood changes, memory problems, pain, fatigue, blindness and paralysis,” Dr. Desai said. “Everyone’s experience with MS is unique and symptoms can be temporary or long-lasting and ultimately debilitating.”
Clinical evidence shows that MS progresses even when the patient has no symptoms; MRI scans and cognitive tests usually reveal increased disease activity even when the patient appears to be in remission.
Studies conducted years ago showed that about half of people with MS needed a cane to walk within 10 to 15 years of their diagnosis. However, that was before the advent of disease-modifying drugs to treat multiple sclerosis. These days, the risk of needing a cane is much lower, but not zero, according to Dr. Desai.
“Our treatments are very effective in reducing the risk of sudden changes called MS relapses or attacks,” Dr. Desai said. “However, they are less effective at preventing progression, which is a gradual worsening that occurs over months or years and impacts a person’s ability to walk and take care of themselves. and his family.”
Although many treatments have been approved for RMS, there remains an unmet need for more effective drugs that could not only reduce MS-related disability and relapses, but also slow disease progression. “That’s the goal of this study,” Dr. Desai said. “We want to see if the investigational drug being studied, fenebutrinib, can be a safer, but more effective option than the one currently in use.”
The global FENhance study will involve a total of 1,400 participants between the ages of 18 and 55 who have been diagnosed with RMS in the past 10 years; AHN will register at least 4 of these participants. The blinded randomized study will be divided into two groups; one group will receive the investigational drug, fenebutrinib, while the other group will receive the comparator drug, teriflunomide.
“For those living with multiple sclerosis who know that their disease will eventually rob them of the ability to function independently, the more options we can give them to slow the disease process and allow them to live a somewhat normal life, the better,” said Dr. Desai. “There is still much to learn about MS and even more to discover about the best way to treat it, but this study represents an important step in the good direction.”
Those interested in learning more about the FENhance study can call study coordinator Mary Fetter at 412-359-4856 or email: [email protected]
About Allegheny Health Network:
Allegheny Health Network (AHN.org), a Highmark Health company, is an integrated health care delivery system serving the greater western Pennsylvania region. The network is made up of 13 hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, Health + Wellness pavilions, an organization of salaried doctors, home and community health services, a research institute and a group purchases. The network provides patients with access to a full range of advanced medical services, including nationally recognized programs for primary and emergency care, trauma care, cardiovascular disease, organ transplantation, cancer care, orthopedic surgery, neurology and neurosurgery, women’s health, diabetes, autoimmune disease and more. AHN employs approximately 21,000 people, has more than 2,500 physicians on its medical staff, and serves as the clinical campus for Drexel University College of Medicine and Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine.
Share the article on social networks or by e-mail: