A large trial has shown that 58 percent of people with multiple sclerosis (MS) that take Aubagio (teriflunomide) show no symptoms after two years, offering hope to around 1 million people in the US living with the disease.
The results were published in the Journal of Neurological Sciences.
Aubagio is a currently-available drug used against relapse remitting MS. An immunomodulating drug, it reduces the number of T and B immune cells that can enter the central nervous system to reduce the number of relapses the patient has, as well as reducing the severity should they occur.
It is currently approved in over 80 countries, and previous trials have shown a moderate effect on reducing relapses.
In the latest study from the University of Cagliari, researchers took a sample of 319 patients, most of whom were women and the average age was late 40s. The research aimed to understand how the use of Aubagio has changed over recent years, as well as its efficacy over 24 and 36-month period.
Most patients (79 percent) had never tried Aubagio but had previously tried other treatments, while the remainder had never tried any other treatments.
The researchers found that Aubagio use has increased over recent years, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic, and naive users (for whom Aubagio was their first treatment) were up 20 percent over the past two years.
Each participant was rated on a standardized scale at 24 months to see how the treatment was affecting them. The researchers were looking for a rating of no evidence of disease activity 3 (NEDA-3): defined as no relapses, no disability progression, and no MRI activity.
Of the 204 patients that were rated and remained on Aubagio treatment, 120 (58.8 percent) had achieved NEDA-3. After 36 months, this number remained about the same at 56.8 percent. The ethos of “the earlier the better” remained true, with better outcomes found in patients that started Aubagio treatment at younger ages and with less symptoms.
The researchers now hope the data can be used to influence how MS is treated going forward, including identifying personalized cases where Aubagio will be most effective.
“Therefore, the challenge to be posed in clinical practice is to identify the best candidates for teriflunomide administration, with a view to an early and personalized treatment for the patients— often young women due to the frequency of MS — also considering family-planning preferences, quality of life, and treatment goals,” write the authors.