Peginterferon beta-1a, known by its brand name Plegridy, is an approved treatment for relapsing and remitting forms of multiple sclerosis (RRMS). The drug is a “pegylated” form of interferon beta-1a, meaning polyethylene glycol (PEG) attaches to interferon molecules so as to enable them to maintain biologic effects for longer periods of time, allowing for less frequent dosing. It is an injectable formulation, administered subcutaneously, once every two weeks. Biogen Idec is responsible for clinical development and marketing of the drug in the United States and European Union.
How Plegridy Works
Plegridy is an immunomodulatory drug that is aimed at reducing the bouts of severe inflammatory attacks on the myelinated neurons of the central nervous system (CNS). The exact mechanism of action of Plegridy on multiple sclerosis is unknown, but interferons (a type of protein) of this class have demonstrated ability to balance the release of pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines in the brain and keep a check on the number of immune cells crossing the blood-brain barrier. Moreover, these molecules also enhance the production of nerve growth factor, which has a protective effect on neurons, helping in their regeneration.
This drug is made up of the same amino acids (major components of proteins) as the interferon beta found in the body.
History of Plegridy
Data from one year of a two-year Phase 3 clinical trial (ADVANCE) in 1,512 patients was pivotal in the drug’s approval, showing its efficiency and efficacy in reducing the number of relapses in trial participants compared to placebo, and in reducing new lesion growth and disability progression. Plegridy was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in August 2014. Dosage of the drug starts at 63 micrograms on day one, followed by an injection of 94 micrograms on day 15, and reaching 125 micrograms (full dose) when next injected at day 29. Thereafter, doses of 125 micrograms are to be injected once every 14 days, or once every two weeks.
Other Plegridy Details
The most common side effects reported include the appearance of flu-like symptoms, anaphylactic reactions, muscle pain, itching, fever, seizures, and fatigue. People with liver diseases should avoid taking interferon-based drugs, and only do so under strict supervision of a specialist. Patients under treatment for conditions that include heart problems, bleeding problems, low blood counts, and depression, or are pregnant and/or about to breastfeed should also consult a specialist prior to using the drug.
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