The purpose of this study is to determine the effects of glatiramer acetate (Copaxone) alone
compared to Copaxone plus albuterol in patients with Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
MS is thought to be an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system. Certain white blood
cells of the immune system become abnormally active and mistakenly attack the myelin of
nerve fibers. Myelin is a fatty sheath that surrounds nerve fibers and insulates the nerve
like insulation around an electrical wire. Without proper myelin insulation, messages sent
between the brain and other parts of the body may be confused or fail completely. Damage to
myelin causes the symptoms of MS. The most common form of MS is known as relapsing-remitting
(RR), where partial or total recovery occurs after attacks. Four therapies are currently
approved for the treatment of MS. These therapies, however, are only moderately effective
and can cause undesirable side effects. For this reason, there is a need to find new
therapies that have minimal side effects and may stop the disease from getting worse.
MS is a chronic inflammatory disease of the central nervous system characterized by focal T
cell and macrophage infiltrates that lead to demyelination and loss of neurologic function.
Four therapies are currently approved for the treatment of MS. Three of these are approved
for the treatment of patients with the relapsing-remitting (RR) form of MS, in which
patients have clinical exacerbations followed by partial or complete recovery of function.
These treatments are only modestly effective and are associated with significant toxicity,
often causing patients to delay therapy for significant lengths of time. Thus, there is a
need to find therapies with low toxicities that can be administered early during the disease
course with the potential for arresting the disease.
During the pre-treatment phase, patients undergo neurological exams, including the extended
disability status scale (EDSS), Ambulation Index (AI), disease steps (DS) scale MS
functional composite score, PASAT, 9 hole peg test, and the 25 foot walking time. A 12-lead
electrocardiogram (EKG) and chest x-ray are performed. Serum chemistry is assessed as well
as electrolyte and thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) levels. A brain MRI (with and without
gadolinium), urinalysis, and urine pregnancy test (for women of reproductive potential) are
performed. Blood is collected for mechanistic studies. In the treatment phase, patients are
assigned randomly to 1 of 2 study arms:
Arm 1: Copaxone plus placebo. Arm 2: Copaxone plus albuterol. At the treatment visits, blood
is collected and neurological exams and a brain MRI are performed. A pregnancy test is
administered to women of reproductive potential. Neurological exams are performed every 6
months. MRIs are performed at baseline, Year 1, and Year 2. At the end of the study,
patients have a complete physical exam, a neurological exam, and a brain MRI.
Patients may be eligible for this study if they:
- Have been diagnosed with RR-MS, within 2 years of diagnosis.
- Are 18-55 years old.
- Have RR-MS with evidence of demyelination on MRI scanning of the brain.
- Have extended disability status scale (EDSS) scores between 0 and 3.5.
- Have not taken Copaxone or oral myelin.
- Have not had immunomodulating therapy for the past 3 months.
- Have not taken immunosuppressants.
- Have not had steroid treatment 1 month before entry.
- Have no evidence of active infection or cancer.
Patients may not be eligible for this study if they:
- Have a normal brain MRI.
- Are not willing to practice contraception (applies to women who are able to have
- Are pregnant or breast-feeding.
- Are currently taking any of the following drugs: beta2-adrenergic agonist or
antagonist, diuretics, tricyclic antidepressants, or monoamine oxidase inhibitors.
- Have heart, blood, liver, or kidney problems.
- Have a disease that affects blood clotting or lung function.
- Have abnormalities that relate to the endocrine system.
- Have a history of alcohol or drug abuse within 6 months of enrollment.
- Have been diagnosed with primary progressive MS, in which the disease slowly worsens
without periods of recovery.