What is Laquinimod?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 18 April 2019
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Laquinimod is a medication with immunomodulatory effects, altering the function of the immune system in patients. As of 2011, this drug was experimental and available only through clinical trials. This medication has applications in the treatment of autoimmune disease, where a patient's body goes on the attack and causes damage to its own tissues. Such diseases are stubborn and challenging to treat, making new therapeutic agents extremely appealing.

The medication comes in the form of an oral tablet taken once a day. Clinical trials with laquinimod have shown the most promise in multiple sclerosis treatment, where it appears to slow the formation of plaques and can reduce the intensity of relapses in patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. As a maintenance medication, laquinimod could keep patients with this degenerative nerve disease more comfortable, and may increase independence and reduce the chances of severe disability later in life, a common concern for patients with neurological diseases.

This drug also appears to be useful in treatment of Crohn's disease, an autoimmune condition of the digestive tract, along with lupus and certain other conditions involving the immune system. The mechanism of action is not fully understood, as is commonly the case with investigative medications, where researchers are still learning more about how they work and if they work, to determine if they are worth developing commercially for treatment of disease.


Information about side effects for drugs in clinical trials is usually not released. The drug manufacturer wants to compare side effects for patients on placebo with patients taking the drug, and also needs to identify potentially serious and fatal side effects to determine if the drug is too dangerous to release. Medications known to impact the immune system, like laquinimod, can make people more susceptible to infection and may lead to issues like skin rashes, allergic reactions, and increased chance of developing coughs, colds, and flu.

People interested in accessing experimental medications like laquinimod can look at a clinical trial database to see if any trials are open to them. Trials with open enrollment accept patients who fit a specific set of parameters. A doctor may have trials to recommend and can also discuss other ongoing clinical trials with the patient. During the enrollment process, the patient will learn more about the risks and benefits of a given trial, and can use this information to make an informed decision about whether to move forward with participation.



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