After presenting fresh data on products old and new, Biogen Idec believes that a more personalised approach to treating multiple sclerosis is the future.
The company is making over 55 presentations at the European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ECTRIMS) congress in Copenhagen and unsurprisingly data on its oral treatment Tecfidera (dimethyl fumarate) has taken centre-stage.
Interim analyses from the ENDORSE long-term extension study show that Tecfidera maintained its effect in reducing disease activity in patients treated for four years. Furthermore, no new or worsening safety signals were observed in patients who had been on the drug for up to six and a half years.
In addition, a separate analysis of the Phase III DEFINE and CONFIRM trials reveals that the drug significantly reduced MS relapses in treatment-naive patients, while delaying the overall progression of the disease.
The data is going to do no harm to Tecfidera's already-impressive sales. The drug was only launched in March in the USA (Biogen is still waiting for European approval and would not comment on when that may be) but there has been a huge uptake across the pond, notably among new MS patients.
Biogen has also been presenting fresh data on its blockbuster Tysabri (natalizumab) which showed that use of the drug beyond two years continued to reduce disability progression and maintained very low relapse rates. Alfred Sandrock, chief medical officer, noted that the analyses also "build upon a growing body of evidence that demonstrates greater clinical benefits for people with MS when Tysabri is initiated earlier".
Data is also being presented on Biogen's investigational MS drugs, such as Plegridy (pegylated interferon beta-1a), the pegylated version of its older blockbuster Avonex and daclizumab, a once-monthly subcutaneous injection being developed with AbbVie.
Excitement for Anti-Lingo-1
However, arguably most interesting is Anti-Lingo-1, also known as BIIB033. It is the first candidate being investigated for its potential to repair neurons damaged by MS. Two Phase I trials have shown that the antibody can promote spinal cord remyelination and axonal integrity and it is safe and well-tolerated.
Anti-Lingo-1 is now in two Phase II studies and Dr Sandrock told PharmaTimes that the firm sees great potential in combining it with Biogen's stable of immunomodulators. He added that all the company's range of drugs are valuable given that every MS patient is different and there is a need to adopt a more tailored, personalised approach to tackling the disease.
Dr Sandrock also emphasised the need for early treatment and further work on identifying biomarkers to get the right drug to the right patient quickly.