Excerpts from a Bloomberg article:
Lemtrada is given once a year as an infusion. Patients get five doses over five days. More than 70 percent of patients with early disease given the drug in a study had no relapses or progression of disability for four years, compared with 35 percent of those given  Rebif.
Side effects included infections in 72 percent of patients, thyroid complications and cancers. Most infections were in the respiratory or urinary tracts and cleared with treatment.
Lemtrada is in the third and final stage of tests generally needed for U.S. approval. Results from one of those tests, in patients without prior MS treatment, are expected mid-year, Genzyme said today in a statement. A second study of previously treated patients will be done by the end of 2011. Genzyme said it expects U.S. approval in the second half of next year.
While Lemtrada’s once-a-year treatment approach is convenient for doctors and patients, medical complications may go unnoticed and be difficult to treat. With daily pills, side effects may sometimes be eased by halting use. Genzyme’s medicine, by design, remains active in the body for a year.
Exciting initial results! There is a possibility for serious side effects and, as with all new medications, there is no way to predict how it will affect a person ten years (or more) down the road. Nice to know that all of this research is ongoing though!
Rituximab, administered by intravenous infusion, is a monoclonal antibody licensed to treat leukaemia and non-Hodgkins lymphoma. It works by reducing the numbers of B-cells in the immune system. Most current treatments for MS interact with or deplete T-cells, so Rituximab provides a means for investigating the role of B-cells in the immunological changes in MS. Side effects include progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) and fatal infusion reactions, although these have not been reported in MS trials. Rituximad is being studied for use in the treatment of relapsing-remitting MS; studies are also ongoing to see whether Rituximad would be a useful therapy in patients with primary progressive MS and secondary progressive MS. Regarding the studies focused on RRMS, preliminary results show GdE lesions were reduced after treatment with Rituximab, with 74% of post-treatment MRI scans being free of GdE activity compared with 26% free of GdE activity at baseline. Mean GdE lesions were reduced from 2.81 per month to 0.33 after treatment (88% reduction).
Next time I will discuss information about the use of Tovaxin and Apitope Vaccines as MS therapies.
Don't forget, tomorrow begins MS Awareness Month!!! Thanks for reading!