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Recent Articles and News regarding Multiple Sclerosis (contributions from our readers)



                        

Early treatment of MS prevents new symptoms
September 14, 1999

NEW YORK, Reuters [HD] via NewsEdge Corporation : Results of a new study
add to
mounting evidence that
treating multiple sclerosis (MS) as soon as possible, before extensive
neurological damage occurs, may
help delay progression of the disease.

In MS, which strikes more women than men, the myelin sheath -- a material that
serves to insulate certain
nerves -- deteriorates in the eye, brain and spinal cord. Symptoms vary widely
from person to person but
may include tingling, dizziness, difficulty walking, tremors, and double
vision.
Symptoms of the disease
may often diminish or disappear, only to return months or years later.

But when Dr. Alasdair J. Coles, of Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge,
England,
and colleagues treated
29 MS patients with an anti-inflammatory drug called Campath-1H, they found
that
none of the patients displayed
any new symptoms over an 18-month period. But, even though new symptoms were
prevented in all participants,
about half experienced a worsening of existing symptoms, the researchers
report
in the September issue of the
Annals of Neurology.

Based on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) brain scans obtained before
treatment
and throughout the study,
the investigators conclude that symptoms were most likely to worsen in people
with the most brain inflammation
prior to receiving Campath-1H. Symptoms also worsened in people who already
had
extensive damage to
regions of nerve cells called axons, Coles and colleagues report. Axons carry
impulses away from the nerve cell.

``For anti-inflammatory drugs to be successful in treating MS, they need to be
given early, before axonal death
has been established,'' Coles told Reuters Health in an interview.

``Despite its profound effect on the immune system, Campath-1H had very little
side effects except that one third
of patients experienced Grave's disease, an autoimmune disease of the thyroid
gland, that was easily controlled
by drugs,'' Coles said.
SOURCE: Annals of Neurology 1999;46:296-304.
[Copyright 1999, Reuters]

BERLEX STOPS MS BETASERON TRIAL ON ADVICE OF MONITORING BOARD
September 15, 1999

BioWorld via NewsEdge Corporation : On the advice of an independent monitoring
board, Berlex Laboratories Inc. halted a Phase IV U.S. trial of Betaseron
(interferon beta-1b) for secondary- progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS), but
the company can't quite say if that was good news or bad news.

"It's sort of middle-of-the road news," said Wendy Neininger, director of
corporate communications at Montville, N.J.-based Berlex.

"When we got the letter from the board, I called up the chairman and asked
what
it meant," said Jeffrey Latts, vice president of clinical research and
development at Berlex. "It's ambiguous. I asked if they were stopping it
because
the trial was good or bad and he said he wasn't saying. "

Betaseron was approved in 1993 for relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis.
It is
partnered with Chiron Corp., of Emeryville, Calif. However, about half of
those
patients develop SPMS, a more severe and debilitating form of multiple
sclerosis.

The companies started a trial testing Betaseron for SPMS in 1996 with a
parallel
study in Europe. The European trial was stopped early when it showed highly
significant benefit. Upon the success of that trial, Berlex and Chiron filed a
supplemental new drug application for the indication.

However, the U.S. trial was still under way, with a completion date of March
2000. Some 935 patients were to be enrolled in the three- arm trial.

The monitoring board determined the probability was very small that the
primary
outcome would change much if preliminary data were released now instead of in
March. Therefore, the board recommended that the placebo-controlled study
continue until every patient received the final dosage.

As a result of the ruling, clinical investigators will continue to compile
data
until all patients make their final visits.

In addition, the board recommended that all patients enrolled in the study be
given the opportunity to receive Betaseron and will be medically monitored.
Berlex is providing Betaseron at no cost to those patients.

"What they're saying is that the best way to preserve the credibility of the
final trial is for no one to know its outcome until all the data are compiled.
We're about halfway through all the patients having their final visits," Latts
said. "I can understand that. I'm curious about the data but we decided to
take
their advice. But there has been a lot of money spent on this trial and we
want
it to be as strong as possible."

After the trial is completed and the results unblinded, they will be given
at a
major scientific meeting by mid-summer, Latts said.

"We've already filed with the FDA, and it is possible that they could act
on the
European results," he said. "But, more likely, the FDA will wait for our
results. We're keeping the door open."

Berlex is a subsidiary of Schering AG, of Frankfurt, Germany. Chiron's stock
(NASDAQ:CHIR) gained 3 cents Monday to close at $34.812. n

<<BioWorld -- 09/14/99>>
[Copyright 1999, American Health Consultants]


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Diagnostic tests for MS
September 16, 1999

HOUSTON--(BW HealthWire) via NewsEdge Corporation -- Pathobiotek Diagnostics
Inc. (OTC BB: PBTK), a research company engaged in the development of products
for the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS) and other immune disorders,
Wednesday announced its action to begin the process for filing the Form 10.

The accounting firm, May Swaim and Najvar LLP has been retained to facilitate
the process of filing the Form 10. This is the first of three primary entities
contracted to help Pathobiotek fulfill the reporting requirements set forth by
the SEC.

According to Robert Simpson, CEO of Pathobiotek, "We realize the importance of
providing accurate and up to date financial information to our shareholders.
This is one of several important steps Pathobiotek will take toward becoming a
reporting company."

Pathobiotek will significantly increase marketing efforts for the products
introduced this year as well as submit an article for publication in a
professional journal in the very near future.

Pathobiotek will continue to focus on development of diagnostic products for
applications in the detection and treatment of MS and other immune disorders.





MS drug Avonex propelling Biogen`s growth

September 17, 1999


BOSTON, Reuters [WN] via NewsEdge Corporation : Avonex, an injectable drug
used
to treat relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis, is proving to be good medicine
for its maker Biogen which said on Wednesday it expected higher earnings in
the
third quarter.

Jim Vincent, head of the Cambridge, Mass.-based biotech company, told
investors
at a Bear Stearns conference after market close that he expected Biogen to
post
overall earnings per share of 38 cents, beating Wall Street estimates
collected
by First Call Corp. by two cents.

Biogen shares climbed more than a point in after-hours trading. Biogen was at
85-1/2 in after hours trading after shedding 3-1/4 point during the day to
close
at 84-1/8.

About a million people worldwide - including television talk show host Montel
Williams, actress Annette Funicello and comedian Richard Pryor - suffer
from the
debilitating neurological disease.

Biogen said it expected third quarter sales of Avonex to be about $160 million
and noted U.S. patient growth was driving the increase.

The number of U.S. patients using the drug was expected to increase by about
5,000 during the third quarter, the company said. Worldwide, the number of
Avonex patients is expected to exceed 75,000.

Biogen spokeswoman Kathryn Bloom told Reuters that some 90,000 U.S. patients
were taking one of the three Federal Drug Administration-approved MS drugs
- the
others are Schering AG's Betaseron <SCHG.F> and Copaxone, made by Teva
Pharmaceuticals Industries Ltd. <TEVIY.O>.

"We have about 55 percent of the market share in the United States," Bloom
said.

Avonex, which is approved for sale in 18 countries around the world, and
Betaseron each have about a 40 percent market share in Europe. About 18,000
Europeans are taking Avonex.

"We still see Europe as a strong market opportunity," Bloom said.

((Boston newsroom, 617-367-4106; fax, 617-248-9563; e-mail,
Boston.newsroom@Reuters.com)) REUTERS

[Copyright 1999, Reuters World News Service]






Methods for treatment of multiple sclerosis utilizing peptide analogues of
human myelin basic protein (Assignee -- Neurocrine Biosciences, Inc.)

September 17, 1999

U.S. Patents via NewsEdge Corporation : Abstract: The present invention is
directed toward peptide analogues of human myelin basic protein for use in the
treatment of multiple sclerosis. Within one aspect, peptide analogues suitable
for treating multiple sclerosis are provided which are at least seven amino
acids long and derived from residues 86 to 99 of human myelin basic
protein. In
addition, such analogues may be altered from the native sequence at positions
87, 88, 97, 98 or 99 to a D-amino acid. Additional alterations may be made at
other positions. Pharmaceutical compositions containing these peptide
analogues
are also provided, as well as methods for treating multiple sclerosis.

Ex Claim Text: A peptide analogue comprising at least seven consecutive amino
acids selected from residues 86 to 99 of human myelin basic protein, including
residue 97, wherein the L-arginine at position 97 is altered to a D-amino
acid,
said peptide analogue having increased MHC binding relative to MBP 87-99.

Patent Number: 5948764

Issue Date: 1999 09 07




Immunex Launches Multiple Sclerosis Educational Web Site Immunex MS Knowledge
Center Offers Personalized Information Resource For People With Multiple
Sclerosis, Their Families and Health Care Providers

September 17, 1999


SEATTLE, Sept. 16 /PRNewswire/ via NewsEdge Corporation -- A new web site,
http://www.msknowledge.com, dedicated to educating people affected by multiple
sclerosis (MS) was launched today by Immunex Corporation (Nasdaq: IMNX).
Developed with input from an advisory board of MS specialists, the
multimedia-enhanced site offers comprehensive information on MS, the latest MS
news, and feature stories on people living with MS.

The extensive MS Topics section of the site provides in-depth information on a
variety of subjects such as "working with your health care team," "dealing
with
emotional issues" and "managing personal financial matters." Symptom
management
topics, ranging from bladder and bowel function, to sexuality and skin care
are
also included.

A special feature of the new Web site will allow patients to tailor the MS
Topics section to address issues that are most important to them. By
filling out
a short Wellness Survey, a personalized Web page will be created that
identifies
topics that pertain to each patient's needs.

The Profiles of MS section, another unique component of the Web site, features
stories of people who are pushing the boundaries of living with MS. The first
featured profile is of a modern dancer and choreographer living with MS.
Diagnosed in 1987, she has adapted to MS by incorporating the disease into her
choreography.

Multiple sclerosis is a chronic, debilitating disease of the central nervous
system that, in its various stages, afflicts as many as 350,000 people in the
United States. The symptoms of MS result when a breakdown occurs in the myelin
sheath, the fatty substance that insulates the nerve fibers of the brain and
spinal cord. This demyelination process causes patches of scar tissue, or
"sclerosis," which interfere with the nerves' ability to transport messages
from
the brain to body parts. This can result in a variety of symptoms that range
from numbness in the limbs to complete paralysis.