Ocrelizumab Shown Effective Against Relapsing, Progressive Forms Of Multiple Sclerosis

The drug ocrelizumab was found effective in the treatment of multiple sclerosis in three different large-scale, multi-center trials conducted recently, reports a new study. Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease where human body is attacked by its own immune system.

Ocrelizumab For Multiple Sclerosis

Ocrelizumab, with the brand name Ocrevus, has been found to be effective against both primary progressive multiple sclerosis and relapsing multiple sclerosis.

The drugs developed by far to treat the condition targeted the T cells whereas ocrelizumab targets and destroys the B cells of the immune system. Ocrelizumab has been tested in three different clinical trials. In two of the trials, OPERA I and OPERA II, the drug was tested against RMS and in the ORATORIO trial it was tested against PPMS.

Ocrelizumab Against Relapsing Multiple Sclerosis

The large-scale trials that involved investigators from various countries was funded by Hoffman-La Roche (Roche), the patent holder of ocrelizumab. In the OPERA trials the efficacy of the drug was compared with interferon beta-1a (Rebif), which has been regarded as the standard drug for multiple sclerosis.

Using magnetic resonance imaging, researchers found that ocrelizumab was 95 percent more effective in reducing the inflammatory lesions in the brain than interferon beta-1a. Ocrelizumab also reduced the symptoms of relapses by 47 percent and disability by 43 percent when compared to interferon.

Stephen Hauser, the chairperson of the Scientific Steering Committee for the OPERA trial, said that the reduction in inflammatory lesions observed in the trial was "unprecedented."

Ocrelizumab Against Progressive Multiple Sclerosis

Meanwhile, for the ORATORIO trial, since there is no standard drug available for the treatment of PPMS by far, the efficiency of ocrelizumab was compared with placebo. The drug was observed to have reduced the progression of disability and other symptoms of worsening of the disease significantly, which wasn't achieved before with any other treatments. The side effects of ocrelizumab in all the three trials were low to moderate infection and infusion-related reactions.

In multiple sclerosis, the immune system's T cells attack the myelin sheath of the brain, optic nerves and spinal cord. The inflammation thus caused damages the nervous system and results in a wide range of symptoms including fatigue, muscle weakness and difficulty in vision. People with RMS experience complete or partial recovery whereas those suffering from PPMS experience steadily worsening systems without any remission.

"This work, which we hope will have great benefits for the millions of people with MS, is the result of a longstanding collaboration between the global scientific community and industry," said Hauser in a press release.

Marketing applications for ocrelizumab are currently being reviewed by the U.S. Food And Drug Administration as well as the European Medicines Agency. The drug has also been 

The study is published in the The New England Journal of Medicine.

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