The drug ocrelizumab has shown positive results helping both relapsing multiple sclerosis and primary progressive multiple sclerosis.
In findings that show the effectiveness of a new strategy for treating multiple sclerosis (MS), researchers are reporting positive results from three large, international, multicenter Phase III clinical trials of the investigational drug ocrelizumab (brand name Ocrevus) in both relapsing multiple sclerosis (RMS) and primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS).
The trial results are published online on Dec. 21, 2016, in The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), and are discussed in an accompanying editorial.
In multiple sclerosis, the immune system attacks the body, making it a so-called autoimmune disease. To date, all MS drugs have targeted the immune system’s T cells. Ocrelizumab, in contrast, depletes populations of the immune system’s B cells.
Two companion papers in NEJM present data on the drug from two identically designed studies in RMS, known as the OPERA I and OPERA II trials, and from a trial involving patients with PPMS, called the ORATORIO study. All three trials, which involved hundreds of patients and dozens of researchers in several countries, were sponsored by F. Hoffman-La Roche (Roche), which holds the patent on ocrelizumab.
The OPERA trials compared the effectiveness and safety of ocrelizumab to that of interferon beta-1a (Rebif), a current standard-of-care medication for RMS. Magnetic resonance imaging conducted during the trial showed that inflammatory lesions in the brain in the ocrelizumab-treated group were reduced by 95 percent, compared with those receiving interferon, and reduced by about 99 percent from baseline levels at the beginning of the trials. These imaging results were accompanied by up to a 47 percent reduction in relapses of symptoms, and up to a 43 percent reduction in disability, compared to interferon.
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