Retuximab Reduces Disease Activity In Multiple Sclerosis

According to a bulletin posted on the National MS Society website, researchers have reported that a course of the intravenous drug rituximab help reduce disease activity and relapses in people with relapsing-remitting MS for about 48 weeks.

Rituximab is used initially to treat certain types of cancers. This type of medication is referred to as a monoclonal antibody. It works by attaching itself to certain blood cells fro the immune system such as B cells and then killing them. It can also be used to treat moderate to severe forms of rheumatoid arthritis along with another drug called methotrexate.

Researchers from university of California in San Francisco have reported the results of the phase 2 trial which was conducted at 32 centers in the US as well as Canada. Two infusions of the drug rituximab were given two weeks apart to 69 people while an inactive placebo was administered to an additional 35 participants in the clinical trial. The primary goal of the said study was to determine the effects of rituximab in enhancing the brain lesions. Other objectives include evaluating the proportion of patients who might experience relapses.

The study showed that 91 percent of the patients taking rituximab experience a reduction of active lesions after 24 weeks. The study also showed that there were 58 percent fewer patients in the treatment group who went through relapses. The researchers believe that the effect of rituximab on depleting B cells in the immune system may be the reason behind the positive effects of the drug on the clinical study. B cells have been known to have a role in the attack of the immune system on brain and spinal cord tissues in people with multiple sclerosis.

Although the study has been in its preliminary stages and may require larger and long term studies in the future, the findings have shown the potential of looking for new therapeutic strategies for treating multiple sclerosis.







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