Biogen, Elan test Tysabri against cancer

Could Tysabri fight cancer as well as it battles multiple sclerosis? Biogen Idec and Elan aim to find out. The companies have given a multiple myeloma patient the first dose in the first clinical trial designed to see whether it might be effective against cancer. Patients in the study have either relapsed, or their cancer is resisting treatment with other meds. In the first phase, researchers will check the drug's safety in 12 patients. Then, they'll assess the efficacy in 30 patients.

Of course, a new indication for Tysabri is years away. But the new trial shows the companies plugging away at their strategy of racking up new uses for the MS drug, which recently won U.S. approval for treating Crohn's disease. Biogen and Elan are obviously undeterred by recent reports of two new cases of the brain ailment that pushed Tysabri off the market in 2006. The FDA was undeterred too; it simply added the news to Tysabri's label. And for patients with debilitating diseases like MS and treatment-resistant cancer, the benefits could definitely be worth that risk.

- check out Elan's release
- read the story in the Boston Globe