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Roche Seeks to Mend Damaged Nerves in Multiple Sclerosis Push

May 23, 2017

Roche Holding AG, a Swiss drugmaker, wants to expand its portfolio of multiple sclerosis (MS) treatments and is a seeking a partner with experimental drugs that might help repair the damage caused to the nervous system by MS. Roche wants to find a “compelling science” in what’s called remyelination, or repairing the protective sheath around nerve cells. The company hopes to tap into the MS market that’s projected to grow to $24 billion by 2020. It won its foothold in March when it won U.S. Approval for Ocrevus.

Roche will have to catch up with Biogen Inc., which is already conducting human tests on its drug candidate. Biogen told analysts last month that it plans to start testing its compound opicinumab for remyelination in a mid-stage trial toward the end of the year. Roche in 2014 entered into a partnership with Inception Sciences Inc. and Versant Ventures to find and develop remyelination therapies. So far, there’s no therapy to reverse the harm caused by the disease, in which the immune system attacks the myelin sheath surrounding neurons. Global sales of branded MS medicines could reach $24 billion in 2020. European regulators are reviewing Roche’s Ocrevus, the drug-maker’s first MS treatment, and may make a recommendation on its use later this year.

Via Bloomberg