Recent results from the Phase 3 trials RADIANCE (NCT02047734) and SUNBEAM (NCT02294058), published in the journal The Lancet Neurology, showed ozanimod — now under review for approval — to be significantly more effective than Biogen‘s Avonex (interferon beta-1a), an injectable and established first-line MS treatment.
Both studies found that people with relapsing forms of MS treated with ozanimod capsules (1.0 or 0.5 mg, given once daily) experienced a reduction in disability progression, fewer MS relapses, and a decrease in the number of active brain lesions compared to those treated with Avonex. Importantly, both doses of ozanimod were well-tolerated.
One of the leading researchers in these studies, Jeffrey Cohen, MD, a neurologist at Cleveland Clinic‘s Mellen Center for MS, shared his thoughts with Multiple Sclerosis News Today about ozanimod’s promise as a first-line therapy for relapsing MS. He spoke in an interview at the 35th Congress of the European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ECTRIMS), held Sept. 11–13 in Stockholm.
Ozanimod (formerly RPC1063) is an oral sphingosine-1 phosphate receptor (S1PR) modulator, belonging to the same class of compounds as Gilenya (fingolimod) and Mayzent (siponimod), two approved oral treatments by Novartis.
S1P receptors are a type of protein found on the surface of lymphocytes (immune cells such as T- and B-cells), which are required for lymphocytes to exit the lymph nodes and enter circulating blood.
Ozanimod selectively blocks the types 1 and 5 of these receptors, retaining lymphocytes in lymph nodes, and thus preventing them from reaching the brain and spinal cord. This is expected to lower the number of lymphocytes in the central nervous system, reducing inflammation and damage to nerve cells.
Gilenya was the first S1P receptor modulator approved to treat relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS), but a number of side effects are associated with its use, including a slowing of the heart rate and a greater risk of infections, namely of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML; a condition caused by a viral infection).
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