MS Drug Advances from Merck, BMS and More Showcased at ECTRIMS Conference

Multiple Sclerosis_3

Merck, Bristol Myers Squibb, Biogen and others presented their latest data from multiple sclerosis (MS) programs at the 38th European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ECTRIMS) conference in Amsterdam. 

Some data highlighted a mostly positive overlap with treatment regimens for other diseases such as COVID-19.

Covid-19 Vaccine Response Studies

A posthoc analysis of vaccinated patients in Merck's evobrutinib trial extension showed 96% of patients with RMS treated with evobrutinib mounted an appropriate antibody response to an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine similar to someone without MS.

Researchers said this increased antibody response demonstrated a preserved response to novel and recall antigens.

This is the first time a BTK inhibitor in RMS has shown such findings, highlighting the modulation of B cell function. This data informs a potential alternative treatment to B cell depletion approaches.

Merck's Evobrutinib and BMS' Ozanimod Show Long-Term Efficacy

EMD Serono, the healthcare business sector of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, reported Phase II clinical trial data demonstrating the success of investigational evobrutinib with RMS patients.

After three and a half years of treatment, RMS patients showed low annualized relapse rates (ARR) and stable scores on the Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS). Throughout the duration of the open-label extension of the trial, the number of T1 gadolinium-enhancing (Gd+) lesions and T2 lesion volume also remained low.

Evobrutinib works as a CNS penetrant immunomodulator, meaning it could be an effective treatment for RMS due to the way it approaches peripheral and central drivers of inflammation, by inhibiting Bruton's tyrosine kinase signaling in B cells and microglia.

Biogen Reports Individualized Disease Management Studies for MS

An analysis of RMS patients, age 21 and older, who took at least one prior disease-modifying treatment, showed a higher overall improvement in disease activity when treated with TYSABRI versus Ocrevus, Biogen reported. This higher improvement was measured via disease activity and emotional, physical and cognitive symptoms.

Overall, patients preferred the TYSABRI subcutaneous route of administration over the Ocrevus intravenous route of administration. 

Atara Announced New MRI Biomarker 

ATA188 is an investigational Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-targeted T-cell immunotherapy to be used in progressive MS. 

“New biomarker imaging data presented at ECTRIMS suggest brain structural changes and potential remyelination may underlie clinical disability improvements observed with ATA188 treatment,” said Atara's Chief Medical Officer A.J. Joshi in a  press release.

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