Biological therapies, such as interferon beta, can be hindered by the rapid clearance of the drug requiring frequent dosing. One strategy for addressing this problem is drug modification through PEGylation, a well established process by which one or more molecules of polyethylene glycol (PEG) are attached to a biological or small-molecule drug, effectively transforming it into a therapy with improved properties (
pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic) that increase its life in the body and hence its duration of action.
A pegylated protein
Numerous PEGylated therapeutics are currently available, all of which have at least comparable efficacy, safety and tolerability to their unmodified forms.
A PEGylated form of interferon-β-1a (PEG-IFNβ-1a) is being developed for MS.
Phase I study data suggest that PEG-IFNβ-1a should provide MS’ers with a first-line therapy with a more convenient dosing regimen (once a month or twice a month injections) while maintaining the established efficacy, safety and tolerability of presently available IFNβ-1a.
The ongoing global ADVANCE phase III study will determine the clinical efficacy of PEG-IFNβ-1a in MS’ers with relapsing MS.
“This is what you call life-cycle management of a drug or class of drugs for MS. Some MS’ers who respond to IFN-beta may find the option of a once monthly or twice monthly injection preferable to a weekly injection. If the drug gets through the pipeline I wonder what it will cost?”