Targeting B-cell Activity May Reduce MS Brain Lesions, According To GlaxoSmithKline-Backed Study

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GlaxoSmithKline MS Drug

B-cell MS drug from GSKNew research work from GlaxoSmithKline presented by Daren Ausin, PhD, at the American Academy of Neurology’s 66th Annual Meeting has implications for individuals with relapsinig-remitting multiple sclerosis. The presentation detailed a study that used GlaxoSmithKline’s ofatumumab in 231 patients with relapse-remitting multiple sclerosis. Ofatumumab is an anti-B-cell antibody, and it was hypothesized that administering the drug would reduce disease activity in patients.

Several low doses of ofatumumab or placebo were given to patients for 12 weeks after an initial 12-week placebo-controlled period. The goal of the study was to determine the effects of ofatumumab treatment on the number of new brain lesions. Initially, both drug and experimental groups showed lesion activity, but activity was reduced in the drug group four weeks beyond the start of ofatumumab treatment.

GlaxoSmithKline MS DrugParticipants receiving ofatumumab had B-cell levels below 64 cells per microliter, leading to an annualized rate of less than one new brain lesion per year, in contrast to those receiving placebo, who had 16 lesions. During the study period, participants receiving ofatumumab reported injection-related reactions, dizziness, anxiety, fever, respiratory tract infection, and nerve pain twice as often as those receiving placebo.

Said Dr. Austin in a press release, “These results need to be validated, of course, but the findings are interesting. They provide new insight into the mechanism of B-cells in multiple sclerosis and present a possible new target threshold for exploring the potential benefit of anti-B-cell therapy.” It appears as though the therapy was relevant to peripheral, not central, B-cell activity. This is the first study to report using anti-B-cell ofatumumab in multiple sclerosis research.

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Maureen Newman is a science columnist for BioNews Texas. She is currently a PhD student studying biomedical engineering at University of Rochester, working towards a career of research in biomaterials for drug delivery and regenerative medicine. She is an integral part of Dr. Danielle Benoit's laboratory, where she is investigating bone-homing therapeutics for osteoporosis treatment.
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