Neurons
Neurons
In Multiple Sclerosis, damage to the substance that coats neurons (myelin) causes impaired neural communication.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a neurological disease that affects over 2 million people worldwide. In patients who suffer from MS, an abnormal immune response causes damage to a fatty substance called myelin. Like the coating around an electrical wire, myelin insulates nerve cells and facilitates neural communication. Symptoms of MS include muscle weakness, fatigue, and impaired speech. On March 28th 2017, the FDA approved Ocrevus, an immunosuppressive drug developed by Genentech that offers new hope for patients with MS.

Ocrevus targets a specific type of immune cell (CD20-positive B cells) which orchestrates the myelin damage associated with MS. In clinical trials, Ocrevus cut relapses by 47% in patients with the most common form of MS. This form is characterized by periods of worsening neurologic symptoms (relapses), followed by partial recovery (remissions). Importantly, Ocrevus is the first treatment to show efficacy in patients with the most aggressive form of the disease, known as primary-progressive MS. Unfortunately, Ocrevus can cause serious side effects that will need to be monitored moving forward. For example, the drug’s immunosuppressive effects increase the risk of cancer.

Ocrevus will be available within two weeks and will likely become the new first-line therapy for patients with MS.

Related SITN Coverage: Ocrelizumab: The first treatment for primary progressive multiple sclerosis

Acknowledgements: Many thanks to Nivanthika K. Wimalasena, a member of the Harvard program in Neuroscience, and Enrique Garcia-Rivera, a member of the Harvard program for Chemical Biology and Therapeutic Sciences, for providing their expertise and commentary on the topic.

Managing Correspondent: Benika Pinch

Original Article:  Ocrelizumab versus Interferon Beta-1a in Relapsing Multiple Sclerosisthe New England Journal of Medicine

Media Coverage: F.D.A. Approves First Drug To Treat Severe Multiple Sclerosisthe New York Times

 

One thought on “FDA Approves New Drug for Multiple Sclerosis

  1. My most serious result of MS is incredible nerve pain that occurs after sleeping for an hour or two. I necessarily must set a timer to take lyrica and oxcarbazepine as well as gabapentin and tramadol with baclofen to battle. The pain is unspeakable and involves every part of me from my fingers to my toes and everything in between including horrific pain in my pelvis, anal, and bladder regions. Pain is reminiscent of barbed wire dragging across open wounds. (sorry for that imagery) Pain is greatly effected by weather changes to the point that I am planning to leave my home in Florida of thirty years to the west coast for a chance at some sort of life. I tried to avoid such measures by taking lemtrada and then ocrevus. Lemtrada slowed down my decline, and the first half dose of Ocrevus resulted in significant EDSS improvements and overall improvements for the first time in several years. The subsequent dose resulted in a serious relapse that has made me fear future dosing. All comments are appreciated.

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