Although multiple sclerosis (MS) is more likely to be diagnosed in adults between the ages of 20 and 40, children can also develop the autoimmune disease. According to a recent study, between 8,000 and 10,000 children under the age of 18 are diagnosed with MS each year, and many more could be living with the condition but have yet to be diagnosed.
Researchers say the first drug for children with MS vastly outperformed another common MS medication in a new clinical trial. Fingolimod (Gilenya) reduced relapse rates by 82 percent in patients aged 10 to 17 compared with interferon beta-1a, a drug commonly used to slow the progression of the degenerative nerve disease.
Nearly 86 percent of children on fingolimod remained relapse-free after two years of treatment, compared with only 39 percent of children taking interferon beta-1a, researchers reported.
“I do recommend doctors consider using fingolimod as first-line treatment in pediatric MS,” said lead researcher Dr. Tanuja Chitnis, director of the Partners Pediatric MS Center at the Massachusetts General Hospital for Children.
Based on results from this clinical trial, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in May approved