New drug possible breakthrough against progressive multiple sclerosis

As many as 400,000 Americans are believed to suffer from multiple sclerosis — a debilitating disease of the central nervous system. A new drug may provide relief from the most devastating form of MS.

Many MS patients can manage their disease through the use of several helpful medications, but about 10 to 15 percent have progressive MS, which has no approved treatment and continuously gets worse.

Three years ago, a new intravenous drug called Ocrelizumab began clinical trials.

It targets an immune system cell which, in MS, is felt to mistakenly attack the nervous system.

In the more serious progressive form that Gullick has, the drug slowed down the rate of disability by about 25 percent.

Ocrelizumab is the humanized form of Rituximab, a mouse antibody to CD20 that has been met with some success in the treatment of RRMS. The humanized ocrelizumab is expected to be less immunogenic and therefore less likely to cause infusion reactions.

B cells are believed to be involved in the abnormal immune response in MS. Ocrelizumab is thought to influence the immune system response in MS through its involvement with B cells. Ocrelizumab binds to CD20, found on the surface of B cells, and causes cell lysis leading to a dose-dependent depletion of B cells.

Genentech, a member of the Roche Group, had announced that the experimental therapy ocrelizumab has been granted “Breakthrough Therapy designation” by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of people with primary-progressive MS

FDA has granted Priority Review Designation, with a decision target of December 28, 2016.

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