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Drug Reduces Visual Loss in Multiple Sclerosis

Loss of low-contrast visual acuity reduced

MONDAY, April 16 (HealthDay News) -- Natalizumab is effective in treating relapsing multiple sclerosis and also slows vision loss in these patients as measured by low-contrast visual acuity, according to a study in the April 17 issue of Neurology.

Laura J. Balcer, M.D., from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia, and colleagues analyzed visual acuity (100 percent contrast) and low-contrast acuity (2.5 percent and 1.25 percent) in 2,138 individuals with relapsing multiple sclerosis from two clinical trials. More than half of patients were treated with natalizumab alone or plus interferon beta-1a, while the remainder received placebo every four weeks for two years.

The researchers found that natalizumab significantly reduced the risk of vision loss at the 1.25 percent contrast level in both trials (hazard ratios 0.65, 0.72). The mean changes in low-contrast acuity from baseline were worse in the placebo group, according to the study.

"Natalizumab reduces visual loss in patients with relapsing multiple sclerosis," Balcer and colleagues concluded. "Low-contrast acuity testing has the capacity to demonstrate treatment effects and is a strong candidate for assessment of visual outcomes in future multiple sclerosis trials."

The study was supported by Biogen Idec and Elan Pharmaceuticals.

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