In the recent article by Pete Farley of UC San Francisco, researchers report positive results from three international, multicenter Phase III clinical trials investigating a new MS treatment drug called Ocrevus when used in both RMS and PPMS. As we all know, MS is an autoimmune disease where the immune response does not work properly due to the deterioration of the central nervous system myelin causing nerve impulses to be slowed or halted. It has widely been thought to treat MS by targeting to assist the seemingly malfunctioning immune system’s T cells, which are the body’s major cellular components of the immune response to fight illness.
Current standard disease modifying therapies for RMS primarily include medications such as interferon beta-1a (Rebif), interferon beta-1b (Betaseron), glatiramer acetate (Copaxone), or dimethyl fumarate (Tecfidera), to name the top few. According to the Scripps Research Institute, these types of medications are meant to interact with multiple T cell proteins, inhibiting their activity, and helping to suppress the T cell activation that is a key feature of MS flare-ups.
Conversely, Ocrevus, in which the UCSF clinical trial showed a 95% reduction in inflammatory lesions in the brain as compared with that of Rebif, depletes the immune system of its B cells, not T cells. This is indicative to B cells playing a more pronounced role in MS than previously considered. B cells are thought to fuel inflammation in MS, in turn triggering relapses or flare ups.
The study raises many questions on the origin and development of MS including immune function and it will be interesting to see how therapies targeting B cell production/behavior affects people with MS or other autoimmune diseases (if investigators look at those too). In the meantime, results of these clinical trials ought to pique the interest of MS researchers to possibly widen their focus with regard to development of future disease modifying therapies.
As a MS patient, I am hopeful this is yet another giant step in the direction of understanding this disease better to create medications that can stop it from progressing as well as possibly repair any cellular/nerve damage that has occurred so that all of us afflicted can one day live free of MS.
Are you hopeful about Ocrevus?
Barbara inspires hope through mindful health and a meaningful life. By combining healthy living, spirituality, and neuroscience principles, she helps people understand how to be proactive in their health care versus reactionary in their sick care so they can feel great in their body and in their life. Her greatest wish is to never hear a person say, “I should be taking better care of myself.” To learn more and receive her FREE guide, visit Appelbaum Wellness.
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