Development of oral cladribine for the treatment of multiple sclerosis

Hans Peter Hartung, Orhan Aktas, Bernd Kieseier, Giancarlo Comi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic immune-mediated disorder of the CNS in which autoreactive CD4+ and CD8+ T lymphocytes, B lymphocytes, antibodies, macrophages and cytokines synergize to attack myelin sheaths and injure underlying axons. Current disease-modifying drugs (DMDs) for MS require regular and frequent parenteral administration and are associated with limited long-term treatment adherence. Of all the potential new oral MS agents in development, cladribine is the only therapy with the potential for short-course dosing. Cladribine is an immunosuppressant that offers targeted, sustained regulation of the immune system and that has a well-characterized safety profile, derived from more than 15 years of use of the parenteral formulation in oncology indications and MS. This paper discusses the need for new MS therapies to improve treatment adherence, and reviews the mechanism of action, existing efficacy and safety data, and the clinical development of oral cladribine. The need for continuous risk monitoring for all new potent immunoactive drugs under development is emphasized. Preliminary results of the 96-week, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, multicenter CLARITY (CLAdRIbine Tablets Treating MS OrallY) study are encouraging and provide the first complete phase III data on an oral DMD for MS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-170
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Neurology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2010


  • Cladribine
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Oral therapy
  • Preferential lymphocyte-depleting therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology

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