Fumaric acid salts have been in use against severe psoriasis for a long time. About ten years ago, researchers in Bochum, Germany, speculated that they may also have a favorable effect on multiple sclerosis (MS) as a result of their Th2 polarizing mechanisms. In parallel to phase III studies, researchers have been actively searching for the precise effective mechanisms. This has now been achieved by a neuroimmunological group at Bochum: fumaric acid salts detoxify radicals released during the inflammation process. In this way, they protect nerve and glial cells. Neurologists at the Ruhr University Hospital, St. Josef Hospital, working with Professor Ralf Gold, report these findings in the March 3 issue of the leading neurology journal BRAIN. As MS, psoriasis is an auto-immune disease, in which the immune system attacks the body's own cells. In MS, the insulating myelin layer of the axons is destroyed in this way. About ten years ago, the Ruhr University Bochum dermatologist Professor Peter Altmeyer informed his colleague, the neurologist Professor Horst Przuntek, that the mixture of fumaric acid salts registered for treatment of psoriasis under the trade name FUMADERM could possibly exert favorable effects in MS as well. In turn, the Swiss manufacturer Fumapharm sponsored a small study in Bochum. Ten patients were examined for a period of 48 weeks (Schimrigk et al European Journal of Neurology 2006, 13: 604). In parallel to this, Fumapharm supported basic research which Professor Gold then performed at his MS Institute in Göttingen (Schilling et al. Clin. Exp. Immunology 2006; 145: 101-107). After that, the scenario moved rapidly: the US pharmaceutical company BiogenIdec with its focus in MS research took over Fumapharm AG and initiated a successful Phase II study (Kappos, Gold, Lancet 2008; 372: 1463).
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