One thing we’ve all hoped for with our disease-modifying therapies (DMT) is a treatment that will improve our multiple sclerosis (MS) and not just keep it from worsening. The latest studies presented on Ocrevus (ocrelizumab) hold promise that this treatment may have finally arrived. According to recent reports, it appears that Ocrevus slows the disease’s progression, reduces the rate of cognitive decline, and in some patients, even improves cognition.
The American Academy of Neurology’s 2018 Annual Meeting included the latest presentations from Genentech’s publication, Roche, on Ocrevus. Data were presented on how this treatment works for relapsing-remitting forms of MS (RRMS) and its ability to improve cognition. I had the opportunity recently to speak Dr. Hideki Garren, Ph.D., who is group medical director for neuroscience at Genentech, about this latest news.
A common problem
Cognitive impairment is estimated to affect up to 65 percent of people with MS. This can lead to difficulties in effectively expressing ourselves with words, combining ideas with actions, and decision-making. The degree to which we have cognitive problems can vary, depending on our levels of fatigue, outside distractions such as sound, and environmental conditions like temperature changes.
Cognitive problems also can have a noticeable effect on our families and our economic situation. Cognitive problems are one of the most cited reasons for leaving full-time work.
Original clinical trial data
Garren explained that “this is data from the original studies and is a post-hoc analysis,” meaning it uses information from the original trials to look for other outcomes that may be statistically significant. The Phase 3 clinical trials OPERA I (NCT01247324) and OPERA II (NCT01412333), which were used to demonstrate the effectiveness of Ocrevus in reducing relapses, and compared Ocrevus to Rebif (interferon beta-1a), led to its approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The information gathered from the trials’ participants informed the latest news that Ocrevus also demonstrates a positive effect on cognition, both in slowing decline and in improving functions.
Two cognitive notes
The two presentations on Ocrevus and cognition looked at different outcomes in people with RRMS. “Ocrevus does both things,” Garren said. “It reduces the rate of cognitive decline, and in some patients, it improves cognition. One analysis showed it slows cognitive decline and the other demonstrates improvement.”
The cognitive functions were measured using the Symbol Digit Modalities Test (SDMT).
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