Ibudilast slows both brain shrinkage and loss of myelin in MS, phase 2 trial shows

Multiple sclerosis organisations, and the media, are excited about new drug ibudilast. This follows a striking presentation at the ECTRIMS-ACTRIMS meeting in Paris.

So, what exactly is ibudilast and what can it do? Well, it’s an ant-inflammatory treatment but, for a more detailed answer, I am grateful to multiplescleroisnewstoday.com for this explanation:

Ibudilast, labeled MN-166 by MediciNova, is a potential oral treatment for all forms of MS and for other neurodegenerative disorders, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

“MediciNova licensed the drug from Kyorin Pharmaceutical for its potential use in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS), and later obtained rights to investigate it in progressive MS and other neurological conditions.

“In 2016, the drug received Fast Track designation from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to help speed its development as an MS treatment.”

Significantly, the presentation included news that a Phase 2 clinical trial shows the drug slows brain shrinkage and the loss of the protective myelin coating around nerve cells in people with MS.


Dr Robert J Fox, Cleveland Clinic, Ohio.

The presentation “SPRINT-MS/NN٭ 102 phase II trial of ibudilast in progressive MS: top-line” was given by Robert J Fox of Ohio’s Cleveland Clinic Neurological Institute.

He said that ibudilast (MN-166) reduces nerve cell inflammation by targeting pro-inflammatory signaling pathways. Previous studies suggested that it could protect the nerve cells of relapsing-remitting MS patients. The Phase 2 trial involved patients with the more severe progressive form of MS.

Ibudilast trials in US but approved in Japan

Interestingly, even though ibudilast is still undergoing clinical trials in the US, Japanese regulators have already approved it as an MS treatment.

The Phase 2 SPRINT-MS trial (NCT01982942) tested ibudilast’s safety and effectiveness in progressive MS patients, and their ability to tolerate it.

Ibudilast met the trial’s primary objective of reducing brain shrinkage. “Compared to placebo, ibudilast treatment was associated with a 48% slowing in the rate of atrophy (shrinkage) progression,” Fox said.

“No increased rate of serious adverse events” were reported, said Fox. He added that there were “no opportunistic infections” or signs of cancer.

As for tolerability, 30% of ibudilast patients discontinued treatment — 18% because of adverse events. And 25 of the placebo group stopped treatment — 12% because of adverse events.

٭SPRINT-MS stands for Secondary and Primary Progressive Ibudilast NeuroNEXT Trial in Multiple Sclerosis.

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Affiliate disclaimer: This affiliate disclosure details the affiliate relationships of MS, Health & Disability at 50shadesofsun.com with other companies and products. Read more.

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50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, a freelance medical writer and editor for various health information sites. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.


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