New MS Drug Shows ‘Breakthrough’ Promise for Advanced Disease

Multiple sclerosis (MS) affects an estimated 2.3 million people around the world, including about 400,000 people in the United States. Although there’s no cure for any form of MS, multiple treatments are available for relapsing MS to ease symptoms.

According to a pair of new clinical trials, a new drug slows the progress of multiple sclerosis, including an advanced form of the degenerative nerve disease for which there currently is no treatment.

One MS specialist called the intravenous drug, ocrelizumab, a “breakthrough.”

Ocrelizumab reduced the advance of MS-related disability by 24 percent in people with primary progressive MS compared to a placebo, results from one clinical trial show.

Researchers compared ocrelizumab against a placebo, or dummy drug because there’s no approved treatment available for primary progressive MS. This form affects about 15 percent of MS patients, said Dr. Stephen Hauser, chair of neurology at the University of California, San Francisco.

“It does represent new hope for people with progressive MS,” said Hauser, who worked on both reports.

Ocrelizumab also proved superior in