The approved lymphoma therapy Rituxan (rituximab) has shown promise as a treatment for multiple sclerosis.
A new study indicates the Genentech treatment is effective and safe against neurological diseases like MS for up to seven years.
The research, “Long-term safety of rituximab induced peripheral B-cell depletion in autoimmune neurological diseases,” was published in the journal PLOS One.
Rituxan targets a protein called CD20 in immune B-cells, which are responsible for the production of antibodies. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Rituxan as a treatment for lymphoma and rheumatoid arthritis.
The antibody in Rituxan leads to a depletion of certain B-cells. It is currently being investigated as a potential therapy for relapsing–remitting multiple sclerosis.
In fact, “rituximab is often used as an off-label therapy in patients with immune-mediated neurological disorders (PIMND), including multiple sclerosis,” the researchers wrote.
Off-label use means Rituxan is prescribed as a therapy for diseases other than those for which it was approved.
While open-label and randomized controlled studies have shown promising results for Rituxan in disorders other than lymphoma or rheumatoid arthritis, scientists have had long-term safety concerns about it. Those concerns are particularly important because Rituxan can be prescribed for years.
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