MediciNova has recorded midstage clinical data for ibudilast which indicates the drug is effective in progressive multiple sclerosis, a difficult to treat type of the neurodegenerative disease. The phase 2b Sprint-MS trial displayed that ibudilast was well received, which should be expected from a treatment that has been on the market for more than twenty years in Japan for post-stroke and asthma difficulties.
It’s another morale booster for the San Diego-based micro-cap’s lead drug program, after it reported preliminary data from an open-label study back in April which showed ibudilast had the capabilities to extend survival in patients with lateral sclerosis and amyotrophic.
Though 85% of the 2 million-plus people with MS globally have the relapsing-remitting form of the disease at the time of diagnosis, the rest have a progressive form which leads to consistent declines in walking, vision and mental acuity. On top of that, majority of people with the relapsing form go on to develop progressive MS at a later time.
Dr. Robert Fox, of the Cleveland Clinic, head investigator of SPRINT-MS, reported in a release that the results with the drug are an “encouraging step forward” in progressive MS which—until a green light for Roche’s Ocrevus (ocrelizumab) infusion in March—had no FDA-approved therapies.”
Ocrevus’ first-to-market advantage in both relapsing-remitting and primary progressive MS has put it on pace for sales greater than $4 billion by 2022, according to EvaluatePharma, but MediciNova is anticipating that there will be an opportunity to grab a piece of the market for its orally active small-molecule drug. It feels the market for progressive MS therapies could within due time compete that of relapsing-remitting MS therapies, which recorded sales higher than $20 billion across the globe in 2016.
The biotech company will present the results of the study in front of neurologists at the ECTRIMS-ACTRIMS conference in Paris this week and for now isn’t releasing too much detail other than ibudilast achieved a significant decline in the progression of brain atrophy in comparison to the placebo, utilizing MRI analysis of the volume of the brain parenchymal fraction as a biomarker.