Importance of the field: One of the disadvantages of currently available disease-modifying drugs (DMDs) for multiple sclerosis (MS) is their parenteral administration. Moreover, efficacy is only partial. Most patients treated with first-line DMDs do not remain relapse-free. There is a need for new oral drugs that are more effective than currently available compounds. Innovative oral drugs with new mechanisms of action showed promising results in clinical trials. One of these emerging drugs is BG00012 (BG-12), a fumaric acid ester (FAE). Its active agent, dimethyl fumarate had first been included in FAE treatments for psoriasis.
Areas covered in this review: Results that highlight the potential role of BG-12 in MS treatment. We focus on findings of experimental studies and current results of clinical studies with FAE in MS.
What the reader will gain: An overview of the immunomodulatory and neuroprotective effects of FAE, their effect in animal models of MS and their short-term efficacy and safety profile in a Phase IIb clinical trial.
Take home message: BG-12 is a promising emerging treatment for relapsing-remitting MS, combining anti-inflammatory and possibly clinically relevant neuroprotective effects with the convenience of oral administration. However, the future role of BG-12 in treatment of MS will have to be determined after the completion of ongoing Phase III studies.