Roche Pharmaceuticals Division (SWX:RO) has announced the drug Ocrelizumab is the first investigational medicine to show positive results in multiple sclerosis patients for primary progressive form.

The announcement recalls data from three studies: the first two called OPERA I and OPERA II, performed in people with relapsing multiple sclerosis (MS), and the ORATORIO study performed in people with primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS), a form of the disease marked by steadily worsening symptoms.

During OPERA studies, the drug was found to work better than the commonly used drug Rebif, to reduce the three major markers of disease activity over the two-year controlled treatment period. In ORATORIO it significantly reduced the progression of clinical disability sustained up to 24 weeks compared with placebo.

Ocrelizumab data will be presented at the 31st congress of the European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ECTRIMS) in Barcelona, Spain. Image: MS Unites

Sandra Horning, Roche’s Chief Medical Officer has expressed enthusiasm for the potential of Ocrelizumab to transform the treatment for multiple sclerosis (MS), as the drug remains the first investigational medicine to significantly reduce disability progression in patients suffering from relapsing and progressive MS.

“We are eager to work with regulatory authorities to bring this investigational medicine to the MS community as soon as possible,” said Horning, in Roche’s press release.

A total of 2.388 people participated in all three studies, and proved Ocrelizumab to be the first drug showing benefits in a major trial for the most serious form of multiple sclerosis, according to researchers. It also reduced the time required to walk 25 feet, the volume of chronic inflammatory brain lesions, and brain volume loss.

Source: Roche