Roche says new MS drug shown to reduce brain lesions
FRANKFURT, May 17 (Reuters) - Roche (ROG.S) said on Wednesday that its multiple sclerosis drug candidate, part of a class of compounds that has been linked to cases of liver damage, reduced brain lesions in a mid-stage trial and that no new safety concerns emerged.
The Swiss drugmaker said that its fenebrutinib pill significantly reduced brain lesions in people suffering from relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis, when compared to a group of patients on placebo, meeting the phase II trial's primary goal.
The drug is part of a class of compounds known as BTK inhibitors, designed to selectively block the cells that drive the harmful autoimmune reaction behind MS.
Competitor Merck KGaA (MRCG.DE), previously seen in the lead of the race to win approval in the segment, said in April that U.S. regulators had paused the addition of new patients to a trial testing similar drug evobrutinib against MS, knocking the German drugmaker's share price.
Sanofi (SASY.PA) had run into similar problems with its drug candidate. Novartis (NOVN.S), also in the race, said last month that no signs of liver damage had been seen in trials testing its anti-inflammatory drug candidate remibrutinib so far.
Roche said ongoing Phase III trails of its MS drug candidate would continue.
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