Experimental Treatment Reduces Retinal Thinning in Progressive Multiple Sclerosis

According to a story from GlobeNewswire, the biopharmaceutical company MediciNova, Inc. has announced encouraging results related in Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) in a phase 2b clinical trial. This clinical trial investigated the company’s experimental treatment ibudilast (MN-166) as a treatment for the progressive form of multiple sclerosis (MS). OCT was a secondary endpoint in this study and primarily refers to the thinning of the retina, the inner layer of tissue in the eye that detects light.

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is a neurological disease which is characterized by damage to the myelin sheath, a fatty, insulating, protective covering that surrounds nerve cells and allows them to communicate effectively. Although a precise cause has not been determined, multiple sclerosis is considered an autoimmune disease, in which a certain trigger, such as an infection, may cause the immune system to mistakenly attack healthy tissue. Smoking and certain genetic variants are also considered risk factors for the disease. Symptoms include blurred vision, double vision, blindness in one eye, numbness, abnormal sensations, pain, muscle weakness, muscle spasms, difficulty speaking and swallowing, mood instability, depression, loss of coordination, and fatigue. There are a number of treatments available for the disease, but no cure. Life expectancy for patients is slightly reduced. To learn more about multiple sclerosis, click here.

About The Study

In the study, ibudilast was able to reduce the rate of retinal thinning in these patients. Retinal thinning is linked to loss of brain volume and other indicators of disease progression. A total of 255 subjects participated in the study. Those who received ibudilast received a 50 mg dose two times daily. The trial included patients with both the primary progressive and secondary progressive variants of multiple sclerosis. Some patients were undergoing previous treatment with interferon beta or glatiramer acetate, but others were previously untreated before entering the trial.  61 patients were evaluated using Heidelberg Spectralis OCT and 183 patients were evaluated using Zeiss Cirrus OCT.

The findings are an indicator of the potential neuroprotective effect of the treatment in patients with progressive multiple sclerosis, which has fewer options for treatment when compared to the more common relapsing-remitting form.

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