MS drug successfully prevented relapse symptoms, say Biogen and Abbott

Earlier on Tuesday, Biogen Idec Inc. and Abbott Laboratories announced that the results of a mid-stage clinical trial revealed that the drug Daclizumab proved to be more efficient than placebo in preventing relapse of symptoms in multiple sclerosis patients.

Nearly 600 study participants were assigned to one of the three study arms: patients receiving low dose of daclizumab, those receiving a larger dose of daclizumab, or a placebo. According to the company, the patients were administered treatment once every 4 weeks for a year; subsequently, patients treated with the low daclizumab dose demonstrated 54% less relapse rates compared to those on placebo. Compared to patients on placebo, those receiving a higher daclizumab dose demonstrated 50% lower relapse rates.

The primary goal of the trial was to compare relapse rates between the different study arms. New brain lesions were fewer in patients treated with daclizumab, said the company. Compared to patients on placebo, lower relapse rates were demonstrated by a higher proportion of patients on daclizumab; further, disability progression was slower in patients treated with daclizumab.

At a scientific conference, the companies are said to present the complete trial results.

A subcutaneous version of daclizumab is being jointly developed and studied by Biogen and Abbott in a late-stage clinical trial. The drug received European regulatory approval under the name Zenapax, and is marketed by Roche for the treatment for kidney organ rejection. The cells that are activated in multiple sclerosis are affected by the response created by the drug without depleting the general population of immune cells.

Biogen based in Weston-MA saw a stock rise from $1.43 to $89 in Tuesday trading. The shares of Abbott, headquartered in North Chicago, hiked up 50 cents to $48.56.

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