MS vaccine to begin testing

March 9, 2006 at 5:00 PM

WASHINGTON, March 9 (UPI) -- PharmaFrontiers is ready to begin U.S. testing of a potential vaccine to slow the progression of multiple sclerosis.

According to a BBC report, the company is launching a clinical trial testing the vaccine in 100 patients, after an earlier study of 15 patients showed a 92-percent reduction in the rate of disease flare-ups.

The new study will compare the vaccine's benefits in 100 treated people who have the relapsing-remitting form of MS, with a control group of 50 who are untreated, the report said.

The new comes one day after an advisory panel to the Food and Drug Administration voted unanimously to return Biogen Idec's MS drug Tysabri to the market. The therapy -- which some say is the most effective MS treatment currently available in preventing MS flare-ups -- was taken off the market last February after three patients developed a rare but deadly brain infection.

PharmaFrontiers' vaccine contains inactive myelin-specific T cells that are found in the immune system, the BBC report said.

MS is a degenerative autoimmune disease affecting the central nervous system, in which immune cells attack the brain's myelin sheath, the layer surrounding nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord that allow the brain to transmit the electrical signals that stimulate movement.

The vaccine under development contains inactive myelin-specific T cells that are found in the immune system, the BBC report said.

MS affects fewer than 250,000 people in the United States, which means PharmaFrontiers could apply for orphan-drug status for the vaccine, a designation for drugs that treat rare but serious diseases.

Orphan drugs are entitled to up to seven years' market exclusivity if approved.

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