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NICE approves MS drug developed by Cambridge Neuroscientists
A new drug based on decades of research at the University of Cambridge has today been approved by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) for use in people with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. Clinical trials have shown that Alemtuzumab, marketed under the name Lemtrada, reduces disease activity, limits the accumulation of further disability over time and may even allow some existing damage to recover.
The approval has been welcomed by the Cambridge researchers whose work, which started in 1991, led to today’s announcement, and by the MS Society.
"I am delighted that the decision from NICE will make Lemtrada available on the NHS. This brings to a conclusion work involving a number of research groups in Cambridge, stretching back over several decades, which made possible our use of Alemtuzumab in multiple sclerosis. The decision from NICE now provides an opportunity for neurologists to offer a highly effective therapy for patients with multiple sclerosis early in the course of their illness."
Dr Alasdair Coles, Senior Lecturer, also in the Department of Clinical Neurosciences, added:
"We are delighted that NICE has supported the EU decision to make this drug available to anyone with active relapsing-remitting MS, without the restrictions invoked on previous drug approvals. This represents a significant change in the way therapies for MS are approved. We are pleased that we are able to offer patients the choice of this new treatment option."
Lemtrada, manufactured by pharmaceutical company Genzyme, began life as Campath-1H, a drug developed out of research by Professor Herman Waldmann and colleagues in the Department of Pathology at the University of Cambridge which began in 1979. However, the story of Campath stretches even further back to research by Dr César Milstein at Cambridge’s MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in 1975 to develop monoclonal antibodies – artificially-produced antibodies, a key component of our immune system which rids the body of invading organisms; this work was to win César Milstein and George Köhler the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1984.
"The NICE approval of Lemtrada is a major step forward in the treatment of people with multiple sclerosis. This drug has taken decades to develop, and we applaud the team at Cambridge for all their work in making it a reality. While it’s not without risk, it’s proven to be a highly effective medicine for people with relapsing remitting MS and we look forward to seeing it made available to those who could benefit."
Adapted from University of Cambridge News. Further media coverage can be found at: Daily Mail ITV BBC News Reuters Business Weekly
Posted on 28/05/2014
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