Is a breakthrough treatment for secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS) finally on the horizon?It’s still too early to answer that question, but in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, a new Novartis drug called siponimod (BAF132) was able to delay progression of the disease in people with SPMS, many of whom had already reached a stage of advanced disability.The study, funded by Novartis, included 1,651 participants from 31 countries. The results were recently published in the peer-reviewed journal The Lancet.

After three months of use, siponimod was able to slow down the disease’s effects by 21 percent and reduced the risk of six-month disease progression by 26 percent.

Participants who took a daily oral dose of siponimod also lost less brain volume, had fewer brain lesions, and reduced their number of annual relapses by 55 percent. However, siponimod didn’t improve how well the participants could walk.