New Compound, BIIB074, May Ease Trigeminal Neuralgia Pain with Fewer Side Effects, Study Says

New Compound, BIIB074, May Ease Trigeminal Neuralgia Pain with Fewer Side Effects, Study Says

Treatment with a compound called BIIB074 shows promise in reducing pain caused by trigeminal neuralgia — a  condition that occasionally affects multiple sclerosis (MS) patients — with few side effects, a new clinical trial finds.

The Swiss study, “Safety and efficacy of a Nav1.7 selective sodium channel blocker in Titrigeminal neuralgia: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomised withdrawal phase 2a trial,” appeared in the journal The Lancet Neurology.

Trigeminal neuralgia refers to sharp, acute pain in the teeth or face. It is caused by irritation of the trigeminal nerve, which stimulates the face, parts of the scalp and the oral cavity. Simple stimuli can irritate nerves, like touch, applying makeup, showering, talking, or even feeling a gust of wind.

Current treatment includes blockers of sodium channels such as carbamazepine and oxcarbazepine, but these drugs inhibit the channels whether they are active and causing pain or not, and for this reason have unwanted side effects.

The Phase 2a trial (NCT01540630), conducted by the Center of Dental Medicine at the University of Zurich in Switzerland, involved 67 adults with trigeminal neuralgia. Researchers investigated the efficacy and safety of BIIB074, a blocker of sodium channels known to be responsible for pain and intensity.

Patients were initially assigned to receive oral BIIB074 (150 mg) three times a day for 21 days. Responsive patients were then randomly assigned to receive BIIB074 or placebo for up to 28 days in a second phase. The study’s endpoint was the difference between groups in the number of patients classified as treatment failures during the second phase.

Of the initial 67 patients, 29 entered the study’s second phase; 15 received BIIB074 treatment and 14 received a placebo. Five patients in the BIIB074 group and nine in the placebo group were classified as treatment failures.

The patients tolerated BIIB074 without severe or serious adverse events. Reported side effects occurring in the study’s first part included headache and dizziness, whereas in the second part, the most common side effects were headache, pyrexia (fever), nasopharyngitis, sleep disorder and tremor.

Although treatment failure was not significantly lower in the BIIB074 group compared to the placebo group, researchers believe more studies are needed to measure the effect of BIIB074 on patients with trigeminal neuralgia.

BIIB074 acts when its target sodium channel is active; the more active, the more pain, but the greater is the treatment’s effect. That runs contrary to the other blockers, which inhibit channels even when they’re inactive – hence, the potential for unwanted side effects.

“Unlike conventional drugs, which often cause tiredness and concentration problems, BIIB074 was not only effective, but also very well tolerated,” Dominik Ettlin, one of the study’s authors, said in a news release. “We will now test the new substance in a lot more subjects during the next study phase, which will reveal whether the new hope for more effective pain relief is justified.”

About 13 in 100,000 Americans are diagnosed with trigeminal neuralgia every year, and the condition affects more women than men. Around 1 percent of all MS patients develop trigeminal neuralgia.

Joana brings more than 8 years of academic research and experience as well as Scientific writing and editing to her role as a Science and Research writer. She also served as a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology in Coimbra, Portugal, where she also received her PhD in Health Science and Technologies, with a specialty in Molecular and Cellular Biology.
Joana brings more than 8 years of academic research and experience as well as Scientific writing and editing to her role as a Science and Research writer. She also served as a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology in Coimbra, Portugal, where she also received her PhD in Health Science and Technologies, with a specialty in Molecular and Cellular Biology.
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  1. Janice Gundersen says:

    I have suffered for many many years with TN. It is unbearable and nothing helps .Over 25 years of being in pain and it has robbed my life. If there please let me know.

    • Nanci says:

      I have had 2 brain surgeries and radiation and I still have TN. I just starting going to an “upper cervical chiropractor” and I am not sure if it is helping or if I am in remission but they know what it is and it is very promissing. I looked on youtube and a guy in North Carolina has helped 1,000 patients, so I looked in L.A. (close to where I live) and he is also doing it and helping patients (since no one ever knows what it is either)

      • Nanci says:

        Oh, look at my comment above about “upper cervical chiro.” It is better than Lyrica for me. I read the next comment about Lyrica. I am on it now and it is very strong and works with my other drugs to get rid of the pain (Lyrica, 400 mg= 100 2 x day & 200 at night, 50 mg Nucynta 3 x day but it is a muscle pain reliever? & Baclofen – I forget the milligrams- 10 3 x day? & carbamezapine 800 a day. One is an opiate & 1 is a narcotic & anti-seizure meds. I have all the bad side effects. I can’t DRIVE, I have big time problems going to the bathroom, I can’t remember anything & I always fall asleep. My pain doctor says Nucynta is something that is probably not doing anything because it is a muscle relaxer. I am going off my meds now & becoming very clear & able to do more things with my body (- I have MS too) I am very hopeful that I’ll be off of them soon. This upper cervical I think is helping

      • Desiree Rodriguez says:

        Hi my name is Desiree and I was recently diagnosed with TN and wanting to know what Dr you are going to for upper Cervical Tx ?

    • Stefan says:

      Sorry for what you are going through :(.
      Wish i could help somehow.
      I will share what helped me, maybe you haven’t tried it.
      Vitamin B12(5000 mcg, Solgar sublingual, you put it behind the tongue and let it dissolve) + magnesium, zinc, omega3 and potassium supplements (watch for the maximum recommended dose.
      Another thing worth trying is a adjusted diet – cut off most carbs and focus on fruits.…/S0022-510X(16)30572-X/abstract…/…
      Some people tried Atkins diet (which is again low-carbs) and said that they basically became pain-free.
      You should try to reduce stress, since it makes it worse.
      Another thing that helps people tremendously is THC/CBD oil, but i never tried that, you should ask in the group.
      Another thing worth checking out is capsaicin, ambroxol, tiger balm and other creams.…/ambroxol-a-potential-new…

  2. Derrick says:

    Janice, after tons of tegretol, trileptol, and even glycerol rhizotomy (with only temporary relief), neurologist rx’d lyrica. I am now taking (450 mg) Lyrica a day, alongside (450-600 mg) oxcarbazapene, and it is finally under control with only slight twinges! I have my eyes on several other avenues if it gets worse, but at least for now it is tolerable. Hope this helps!

  3. Luz Perez says:

    I am being treated with elavil 25mg and 10mg. For a time it was controlled but now I am taking a quimiotherapy that one of its effectcts is neuropathy. I am worried because trigeminal neuragia pain is horrible and its begining to rise again.

  4. Kat Andrews says:

    So now that the meds that I was taking have shut down my kidneys I am only on CBDs and THCs and it works to a degree. I am constant pain now for one year straight. I have carried this beast for 37 years, and I am so sick of it.

    • Nanci says:

      Look at my comment above about “upper cervical chiropractor.” I also wear a “glutathione” patch from “Lifewave” that is good for your liver & many other things. I have never had to do anything with my liver & I am on so many drugs (as I wrote about in my next comment)

  5. Jeanne Anthony says:

    I have had TN for 8 years. For months at a time it is sporadic. Then for months at a time it is chronic pain with periods of intense pain. I look forward to a new treatment. Now I take tegretol and it takes the edge off the intense pain. Makes me lethargic but better than unbearable pain. Unless a person has TN they cannot relate to the level of pain or the way it interferes with your life.

  6. Amy says:

    Hello all,

    I’ve had TN for 6 years now. I’ve tried several medications but my system is very sensitive and could not tolerate any of them so I had MVD (micro vascular decompression) surgery 2 years ago and it didn’t help much. I’ve been having corrections at an Upper Cervical Spine Center for 6 months and it has helped a good bit. It’s not a fast fix and they will tell you to be patient. It does come in spells it seems. But I am thinking of having more injections of Botox because it did absolutely stop the pain for 5-6 months at a time and that is gold when you’re in this kind of pain. Hang in there everyone! Don’t give up.

  7. Kay Clifton says:

    I hope the swiss study will be successful,have trigeminal since 2011,was in remission for 1.5 yrs, was taking subl.cbd oil and it suddenly started coming back,going to try stronger., I wish us all a pain free life!

  8. Robert Coffeen says:

    I take Baclofen and OXcarbazzrpine. Two years ago, I added Vimpat. The side effects (dizziness, sleepiness, etc.) are significant, but the treatment has been very successful.

  9. Glen says:

    I had gamma knife 2.5 years ago with minimal effect. Now have numbness plus other very debilitating side effects. Most problems are now with areas around the eye and many “attacks by bugs other things crawling on the face “. Cymbalta has been prescribed along with gabapentin but positive effects are minimal. A friend has had some success with steroid treatments. Have just begun using CBD oil wishfully.

    • Maureen Friesen says:

      My Dad is 91. He has tried Botox, acupuncture,Gabapentin, Lyrica, and cranialsacral therapy with zero or few good results
      He has a prescription cream with 12% Lyrica which helps somewhat and uses a CBD cream.

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