COVID-19 infection in a multiple sclerosis (MS) patient being treated with Ocrevus (ocrelizumab) — an immunosuppressive therapy — was not associated with any serious complications, a case study reports.
This finding supports current suggestions that immunosuppressive therapies, by dampening immune and inflammatory responses, may help to protect against the “cytokine storm” and hyperinflammation associated with COVID-19’s severe complications.
The case report, “COVID-19 in a MS patient treated with ocrelizumab: does immunosuppression have a protective role?” was published in the journal Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders.
COVID-19 is an infection caused by a new virus called severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). While most infected patients show mild symptoms, about 15% of them develop severe complications, such as respiratory insufficiency, that can require ventilation and intensive care.
Individuals older than 65 and people with clinical conditions are at higher risk of developing a severe case of COVID-19.
People with a compromised immune system — associated with either immunodeficiency disorders or the use of immunosuppressive therapies — may be more susceptible to COVID-19 complications due to the absence of a prompt immune response against the virus.
Currently approved treatments for MS include a number of such immunosuppressive therapies, including Ocrevus (by Genentech, a member of the Roche Group), Lemtrada (by Sanofi-Genzyme), and Gilenya and Mayzent (both by Novartis).
However, increasing evidence suggests that immunosuppression “might play a protective role during COVID-19 infection by preventing or dampening the overly active immune response that, in some cases, might drive clinical deterioration,” the researchers wrote.
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