EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE UNTIL 4 PM ET, April 17, 2002
Initial Chemotherapy Treatment Reduces Relapses in MS Patients
Denver, Colo. – Mitoxantrone, a chemical routinely used to fight breast cancer, leukemia and malignant lymphoma, has found a new disease to battle: Multiple Sclerosis. Used in an initial intensive course of chemotherapy (induction therapy), mitoxantrone dramatically decreases disease activity in MS patients for at least four years, according to a study presented at the 54th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Neurology. Induction therapy, frequently used against cancers, is designed to wipe out abnormal cells and allow for the regrowth of normal cells. Mitoxantrone for the treatment of MS has recently been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It has been used to treat MS in France for more than a decade. Researchers from CHU Pontchaillou of Rennes, France, have demonstrated that mitoxantrone induction therapy for relapsing-remitting MS patients has produced dramatic results in disease activity. Over the past ten years, 100 worsening relapsing-remitting MS patients were given initial mitoxantrone induction therapy for six months, with mitoxantrone combined with methylprednisolone administered intravenously on a monthly schedule. The annual relapse rate decreased significantly from 3.20 during the 12 months preceding mitoxantrone onset to 0.30 during the first year following induction onset, corresponding to a reduction of nearly 90 percent that was maintained for more than five years. The percentage of relapse-free patients was 76 percent at one year of follow-up, and was maintained at 64 percent, 45 percent, and 43 percent at years two, three and four, respectively, with a median time to the first relapse of 2.8 years. "The clinical benefit and reduction of disease activity supports our belief that mitoxantrone, as administered in this study, may be an effective induction treatment before initiating other long-term disease modifying therapies for worsening relapsing-remitting MS patients," commented study author Emmanuelle Le Page, MD.
The American Academy of Neurology is the world's largest association of neurologists and neuroscience professionals, with 32,000 members. The AAN is dedicated to promoting the highest quality patient-centered neurologic care. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as Alzheimer's disease, stroke, migraine, multiple sclerosis, concussion, Parkinson's disease and epilepsy.
Editor's Notes:Dr. Le Page will present the research during a poster presentation on Wednesday, April 17 at 7:30 a.m. in Exhibit Hall C of the Colorado Convention Center. Dr. Le Page will be available to answer media questions at 3:00 p.m. on April 17 in the AAN Press Room (Lobby C, Room 208) of the Convention Center.