Riluzole is a glutamate receptor blocker licensed to treat motor neurone disease (MND). It is being considered for patients with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS) and primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS).
Glutamate receptor blockers control a chemical involved in transmitting messages from nerve cell to nerve cell. However, too much glutamate can lead to a loss of nerve fibers. Blocking channels to control the excess could be a way to protect nerves in people with (MS).
A Phase 2 trial (NCT00501943) involving 16 people with primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS) did not reveal neuroprotective effects in people treated with the experimental therapy. While slight changes were seen on MRI scans of study participants, no substantial clinical measures of disability were noted.
In spite of what could be seen as a setback in the study, riluzole continues to be investigated in other MS patient populations. MS-SMART, a Phase 2 study (NCT0190259) using 440 people with SPMS, is testing the safety and effectiveness of three different drugs (riluzole, amiloride, and fluoxetine) compared to a placebo.
This study will likely be completed in 2017.
Side effects of riluzole are currently unknown.
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