Ibudilast in Progressive MS: Study Results Released

This week, the results from a clinical trial of 250 participants with progressive MS were released and showed that ibudilast on had a significant impact in slowing down brain volume loss (or brain atrophy). This study was led by the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio and was supported by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, part of the National Institutes of Health. The results were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The study, led by Dr. Robert Fox at Cleveland Clinic, and conducted at 28 clinical sites, examined whether ibudilast was better than placebo in reducing the rate of brain atrophy in people living with progressive MS.  The Rocky Mountain MS Center was one of the clinical sites in the nation, led by Dr. Enrique Alvarez. For the study, 255 MS patients were randomized to take up to 10 capsules of ibudilast or placebo per day for 96 weeks. Participants had MRI brain scans every six months and the MRI images were analyzed to determine brain changes in the two groups.

The researchers found that both groups experienced brain atrophy, but the brains of the patients in the placebo group shrank on average 2.5 milliliters more over two years compared to the ibudilast group. The main side effects of ibudilast in this study were gastrointestinal and headaches.

“This study is the first of several studies looking for neuroprotective therapies that can be added to the currently available anti-inflammatory therapy to better terminate the MS process in the brain and preserve nerve cells to improve long term outcomes for all MS patients, said Dr. Timothy Vollmer. “These results are encouraging and offer hope for the development of additional treatments for progressive and relapsing MS patients.”