BASEL, Switzerland, September 13, 2006 - Clinical trial results published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed significant benefits for patients suffering from relapsing multiple sclerosis (MS) who were treated with FTY720 (fingolimod), in development with potential to become the first orally effective compound to help patients with this debilitating neurological disease.

The Phase II trial data showed that FTY720 taken once-daily during the initial six months of treatment reduced the rate of inflammatory disease activity - as measured by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) - by up to 80% and cut clinical relapses by more than 50% compared to placebo[2].

In patients who continued taking FTY720 during the subsequent six-month extension, low levels of disease activity were maintained as measured by both MRI and relapses. Both these measures also decreased in patients who switched from placebo to FTY720.

"These results demonstrate that once-daily oral FTY720 provides an improvement in MRI measures of inflammation as well as in relapse-related clinical endpoints in patients with relapsing multiple sclerosis," said Professor Ludwig Kappos, chief trial investigator and head of the Department of Neurology at the University Hospital in Basel, Switzerland. "If the magnitude of benefits shown in this Phase II study is confirmed in the larger-scale Phase III program, oral FTY720 could potentially have a major impact in the way MS will be treated in the future," said Professor Kappos.

Phase III clinical trials program underway Based on the positive Phase II results, Novartis launched earlier in 2006 a Phase III clinical trials program called FREEDOMS (FTY720 Research Evaluating Effects of Daily Oral therapy in Multiple Sclerosis). This 24-month, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study program is designed to include over 2,000 patients worldwide with the relapsing-remitting form of multiple sclerosis between ages 18 and 55. Study participants will be randomized equally to either receive once-daily treatment with 1.25 mg or 0.5 mg of FTY720 or placebo for up to 24 months.

Link: http://www.pharmalive.com/News/index...ticleid=372537