Aubagio (teriflunomide) can help to delay first clinical signs of multiple sclerosis (MS) from progressing to a definite diagnosis in a person, and treatment should likely begin as soon as that first episode is confirmed, Robert Zivadinov, a professor of neurology and director of the Buffalo Neuroimaging Analysis Center, said in an interview with Multiple Sclerosis News Today.
Zivadinov spoke about Aubagio, an oral Sanofi Genzyme therapy, its ability to slow brain tissue loss, and its potential to significantly reduce conversion to a definite MS diagnosis at the 7th Joint ECTRIMS-ACTRIMS Meeting in Paris that concluded Oct. 28.
The therapy was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat relapsing-remitting MS in 2012, based on evidence in the Phase 3 TEMSO trial (NCT00134563) that it significantly reduced relapses and disease progression in those patients.
Aubagio was shown in the TOPIC trial (NCT00622700) to also significantly reduce conversion to MS in people presenting a first clinical episode consistent with MS.
Very early disease signs considered to be a first clinical event consistent with MS were, according to Zivadinov, “optic nerve involvement and inflammation in the optic nerve,” which is the most frequent event. “Probably 70 to 75% of patients have optic neuritis [optic nerve inflammation] during their lifetime,” he said.
“But there are other symptoms including those related to injury in the spinal cord, so motor symptoms or sensory symptoms. Or if the lesions are in … the brain, clearly [patients] would have balance problems, coordination problems, etc.,” Zivadinov added.
When asked if a person using Aubagio would never reach a clinically definite MS diagnosis, or if the drug might delay such diagnosis, Zivadinov clarified: “the drug is mostly delaying conversion to clinically definite MS. Unfortunately, I think we still don’t have a drug that has shown to stop the disease 100%.”
Nonetheless, he emphasized that “there was a significant difference in proportion of patients … [receiving] Aubagio treatment in respect to conversion to clinically definite MS [compared] to placebo.”
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