#CMSC16 – MS Patients of African Descent May Fare Better on Alemtuzumab (Lemtrada)

Patricia Silva, PhD avatar

by Patricia Silva, PhD |

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MS patients of African descent have fewer relapses when treated with alemtuzumab compared to interferon beta-1a.

A study, recently presented at the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers (CMSC) 2016 Annual Meeting in National Harbor, Md., showed MS patients of African decent might better benefit from treatment with alemtuzumab (Lemtrada) compared to subcutaneous interferon beta-1a (Rebif) – with lower rates of relapses evident over five years of treatment.

The CMSC 2016 meeting,  June 1-4, pooled dozens of MS researchers and clinicians worldwide for high level symposiums and other opportunities to discuss and share findings and care practices.

The study, “Patients of African Descent with Active Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis Demonstrate Clinical and Radiologic Benefits with Alemtuzumab over 5 Years”, presented during the Disease Management, Imaging, and Therapeutics session, evaluated patients enrolled inthe  CARE-MS I and CARE-MS II studies.

Relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) patients not previously treated and patients who did not respond adequately to treatment, were enrolled in the study. Patients received one course of alemtuzumab per year, or interferon beta-1a during the first two years. After that, alemtuzumab was administered when patients experienced a relapse or had increased lesion activity on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) brain scans.

Supported by Genzyme and Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals, the study was performed by investigators from the Multiple Sclerosis Treatment Center of Dallas in collaboration with other national MS centers. The core study included 46 patients of African descent. Among them, 35 received alemtuzumab and 11 received interferon beta-1a treatment.

Average annual relapse rates for the first two years were 0.19 for patients on alemtuzumab and 0.62 with interferon, further improving to 0.16 in the alemtuzumab group when calculating the average in a follow-up period of five years.

During the first two years, 33% of MS patients on alemtuzumab therapy showed no evidence of disease activity, compared to only 13% of patients on the interferon group. Among the alemtuzumab patients, 25% continued to have no evidence of disease activity during following years.

Alemtuzumab did not give rise to any serious adverse events linked to the treatment. The rate of serious infection was similar among the patients of African descent and the rest of the study group.

The authors concluded that patients of African descent are likely more responsive to MS treatment with alemtuzumab, compared to interferon beta-1a.

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