Jose Marques Lopes, PhD, science editor —

José holds a PhD in neuroscience from the University of Porto, Portugal. After postdocs at Weill Connell Medicine and Western University, where he studied the processes driving hypertension and Alzheimer’s disease, he moved on in 2016 to a career in science writing and communication. José is the author of several peer-reviewed papers and a book chapter and has presented his research in numerous international meetings.

Articles by Jose Marques Lopes

Ocrevus Targets Certain T-Cells, Along with B-Cells, in MS Patients, Study Reports

Treatment with a single dose of Ocrevus (ocrelizumab) depleted a subset of immune T-cells within two weeks in patients with relapsing multiple sclerosis (MS) or primary progressive MS (PPMS), according to a study. The study, “Ocrelizumab Depletes CD20+ T Cells in Multiple Sclerosis Patients,” was published in the journal Cells. Autoreactive immune T-cells, which attack the body’s own tissues, have been regarded as the primary mediator of MS; however, this view has been challenged by the effectiveness of therapies targeting immune B-cells that contain the CD20 cell surface protein in reducing disease activity. One such therapy is Genentech’s Ocrevus, an anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody, which was first approved in the U.S. in 2017 for patients with relapsing MS or PPMS. Because CD20 is mainly expressed by B-cell precursors and mature B-cells, Ocrevus is often considered to selectively deplete CD20-containing B-cells. However, CD20 is also expressed by highly activated T-cells with the CD3 protein marker, characterized by the increased production of proinflammatory molecules, or cytokines. These T-cells are found in the blood, cerebrospinal fluid — the liquid surrounding the brain and spinal cord — and chronic brain lesions of MS patients, and show an elevated expression of the CD8 and CD45 markers. Off-label use of rituximab (marketed as Rituxan in the U.S. and MabThera in Europe), a lymphoma and rheumatoid arthritis treatment that also targets CD20, has been associated with the depletion of CD20-containing T-cells in MS patients. Therefore, targeting this T-cell subtype has been hypothesized as an additional mechanism for rituximab’s clinical effectiveness. However, scientists did not know whether Ocrevus, which is different from rituximab in terms of CD20 binding and cell toxicity, also depletes CD20-positive T-cells. To address this unknown, a team from Hannover Medical School in Germany analyzed blood samples of MS patients through a technique called multicolor flow cytometry prior to the first dose of Ocrevus and after two weeks, immediately before the second dose. They intended to evaluate the characteristics of the patients’ peripheral blood mononuclear cells, which include T-cells, B-cells, monocytes, and macrophages. A total of 21 patients (13 women) were included, with a median age of 43 years (range 22-65 years). Of the participants, 17 had the relapsing form of the disease for a median of 14.6 years, while four had PPMS for a median of 5.6 years. The analysis found T-cells containing CD20 and CD3 in all patients. These cells accounted for 2.4% of all CD45-expressing lymphocytes — white blood cells that include T- and B-cells — and for a significant proportion (18.4%) of all CD20 cells. Evaluation of the cells’ fluorescence intensity revealed that CD20 levels were significantly lower on T-cells than on B-cells also expressing this marker. Treatment with one dose of Ocrevus substantially lowered the levels of CD20-positive T- and B-cells within two weeks, reflected by a frequency of 0.04% and an absolute cell count decrease from 224.9 to 0.57/microliter. “Our results demonstrate that treatment with [Ocrevus] does not exclusively target B-cells, but also CD20+ T-cells, which account for a substantial amount of CD20-expressing cells,” the researchers wrote. “These findings suggest that CD20+ T-cells might play a pivotal role in the pathogenesis of MS, and we speculate that depletion of CD3+CD20+ cells by anti-CD20 monoclonal antibodies might contribute to the efficacy of anti-CD20 therapy,” they added. However, they also emphasized that the findings need to be confirmed in studies with larger groups of MS patients.

Top 10 Multiple Sclerosis Stories of 2018

Multiple Sclerosis News Today brought you daily coverage of key findings, treatment developments, and clinical trials related to multiple sclerosis (MS) throughout 2018. We look forward to reporting more news to patients, family members, and caregivers dealing with MS during 2019. Here are the top 10 most-read articles of…

Pretreating Ocrevus Patients with Multiple Antihistamines and Liquids Lowers Infusion Reactions by 60%, Study Reports

Pretreating multiple sclerosis patients with antihistamines more extensively and with hydration can significantly reduce — by 60% — the likelihood of infusion-associated reactions that are the most common side effect of Ocrevus (ocrelizumab) use, a pilot study reported. Data also found that older and male MS patients are less likely to have…

Denali and Sanofi Partner to Develop Potential Treatments for MS, Other Neurological Disorders

Denali Therapeutics and Sanofi will collaborate to develop a compound called DNL747 that may treat multiple sclerosis (MS) and other neurodegenerative disorders. The companies will also jointly work on the development of a separate possible therapy, DNL758, for systemic inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis. Both DNL747 and DNL758…

#ECTRIMS2018 – Ocrevus Used Early in MS Course Key to Slowing Disability, Genentech Director Says

Treating patients with primary progressive or relapsing multiple sclerosis (MS) early with Ocrevus (ocrelizumab) is key to slowing disease progression, according to Hideki Garren, global head of Multiple Sclerosis and Neuroimmunology at Genentech. In an interview with Multiple Sclerosis News Today at the recent 34th congress of the European Committee for Treatment…

#ECTRIMS2018 – Finding Best Treatment for ‘Right Patient’ and Progressive MS Among Work of Interest, Cleveland Clinic Doctors Say

Tailored, highly effective therapies early in the disease’s course may be a way forward in multiple sclerosis (MS) treatment, according to Cleveland Clinic neurologist Robert Bermel. Another neurologist with the Cleveland Clinic, Robert Fox, talked about potential and upcoming progressive MS treatments.  In interviews with Multiple Sclerosis News…

#ECTRIMS2018 – GNbAC1 Shows Consistent Neuroprotection in RRMS Patients, Phase 2b Study Reports

Treating relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) patients with GeNeuro’s investigational compound GNbAC1 lessened brain atrophy and lesion load and suggested myelin preservation, according to results of a Phase 2b study. Importantly, monthly intravenous GNbAC1 administration for 48 weeks also had neuroprotective effects in the study’s inactive population, which refers…

#ECTRIMS2018 – Plasma Neurofilament Light Levels Linked to Treatment Effects in RRMS, Study Finds

Levels of proposed biomarker neurofilament light chain (NfL) are associated with therapeutic effects of disease-modifying treatments (DMTs) in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) patients, according to a real-world study. Study findings also revealed that treatment with either Lemtrada (alemtuzumab, marketed by Sanofi Genzyme), Gilenya (fingolimod, marketed by Novartis), Tecfidera (dimethyl fumarate, marketed…

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