A large scale trial of ofatumumab has revealed that it outperforms other treatments used for RRMS – Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis. Attacks were almost gone in the latter aspects of the study; this has raised hopes that in the long-term, the drug may get rid of the disease in many people.
Multiple sclerosis comes in different types. PPMS – Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis is much worse. RRMS is more common, and it affects about a million Americans. Drugs used presently only help in the reduction of how frequent the attack occurs, but they have never come close to the cure.
Over 900 patients were injected with this new drug – ofatumumab every month for about 19 months. Considering different measures, ofatumumab performed more than teriflunomide, which is a well-known MS pill usually prescribed as a double-blinded control.
Patients on this new drug suffered half the number of relapses and most of them (90%) gave positive reports that there was no attack after getting this treatment for a year, bringing about the belief that this ofatumumab could bring an end to this condition.
There was near-complete elimination of inflammation and scarring in myelin-rich areas of the brain.Professor Stephen Hauser (Study leader)
However, it is a fact that ofatumumab comes with its downsides. The weakening of a major component of the immune system opens the body to more external attacks. Infections of the respiratory tract are also common for those using the drug, so also is anemia.
These risks must be weighed against RRMS’ crippling effects, most importantly when it graduates into secondary progressive MS where there is continued decline even when acute attacks happen.
For long, Hauser has argued that taming B cells will go a long way in treating MS. Hauser, four years back, played a similar role while carrying out a study on the B-cell targeting drug ocrelizumab against PPMS.
The trial revealed that ocrelizumab can reduce the progress of the disease, but cannot halt nor reverse, it. Nevertheless, patients were found to benefit sufficiently relative to placebos that ocrelizumab is now licensed for use and sold as Ocrevus.
Now, Novartis hopes to achieve the same feat with ofatumumab and is seeking approval and hopefully, this will even yield greater benefits.
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