A Phase III trial of Teva and Active Biotech's experimental multiple sclerosis drug laquinimod has demonstrated its potential in reducing brain damage caused by neurodegeneration in people with the condition.

A pre-planned analysis of the Phase III ALLEGRO study showed that the once-daily pill had a beneficial impact on brain tissue damage which, the firms note, is one of the most destructive aspects of MS. 

According to the data, patients treated with laquinimod experienced decreased rates of white matter, grey matter and thalamic atrophy, developed fewer permanent black holes, and accumulated less damage in normal brain tissues, compared with placebo. 

“This study indicates that laquinimod likely exerts a favourable effect on several MRI metrics of neurodegeneration, which in turn might explain the previously observed ability of the drug to significantly slow down progression of locomotor disability in relapsing-remitting MS," commented Professor Massimo Filippi, Neuroimaging Research Unit, Institute of Experimental Neurology, Division of Neuroscience, San Raffaele Scientific Institute, at Vita-Salute San Raffaele University.

Michael Hayden, President of Global R&D and Chief Scientific Officer for Teva, said the findings reinforce the firm's faith in the potential of laquinimod, and he also announced plans for a new clinical trial of the drug in primary progressive MS "to gather even more evidence of this novel mechanism of action".

"We also believe the potential neuroprotective benefits of laquinimod could have significant application in the treatment of other diseases like Crohn's disease, lupus nephritis, Huntington’s disease and Alzheimer’s,” he said.