Patients with multiple sclerosis could in future be offered an alternative to injected treatments after a study showed that a new pill offers a promising alternative.
The trial, which involved 51 centres in nine countries, showed that taking laquinimod improved the condition of patients with the relapsing-remitting form of MS with few side effects.
A daily dose of the drug reduced signs of MS inflammation by just over 40% compared with a placebo.
The auto-immune disease causes the destruction of myelin, the fatty insulation around nerve fibres, meaning that nerve messages become jumbled and causing symptoms which can range from pins and needles to paralysis.
Drugs currently available for relapse-remitting MS include glatiramer acetate, interferon, natalizumab and mitoxantrone. However, they all have to be injected, which can put some patients off taking their medication. Laquinimod is a pill which can be taken orally and is one of several oral treatments for MS currently under investigation.
"Overall, the efficacy and safety profile emerging from this trial, in combination with the oral route for administration, make laquinimod a promising therapeutic opportunity for patients with relapse-remitting multiple sclerosis," the report's authors wrote in the Lancet.