Biogen Idec has unveiled new data from studies evaluating its oral BG-12 treatment at the European Committee for the Treatment and Research of Multiple Sclerosis congress in Lyon, France.

In a pooled data analysis for the Phase III DEFINE and CONFIRM studies, BG-12 (dimethyl fumarate) reduced MS relapses, progression of disability and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) measures of disease activity. Interim safety data from a Phase III extension study indicate that continued exposure to BG-12 did not result in any new or worsening safety signals, and that its safety and tolerability profiles were consistent with previous studies, says Biogen. The drug is currently under regulatory review in both Europe and the USA.

Briefing journalists at ECTRIMS, Biogen chief medical officer Alfred Sandrock, also reviewed the company’s MS pipeline, including BG-12 and anti-LINGO 1 (BIIB033), a monoclonal antibody in early stage trials which has shown in animal models that it promotes emyelination and axon survival. He also highlighted the progress being made on a pegylated version of its blockbuster Avonex (interferon beta-1a) and Abbott-partnered daclizumab,

Asked which of the current pipeline compounds he considered currently to be most promising, Dr Sandrock predicted a future in combination therapy. “BG-12 is very exciting but to our knowledge does not cause remyelination. but if anti-Lingo causes remyelination, wouldn’t you want to combine it with an immunmododulatory drug?"

He concluded by saying that "I think we will one day be able to have combination therapy within our own portfolio – we will be testing anti-LINGO 1 in combination with interferon". Dr Sandrock added that anti-LINGO 1 would move to Phase II "any day now".