Study suggests targeting B cells may help with MS

April 24, 2014

A new study suggests that targeting B cells, which are a type of white blood cell in the immune system, may be associated with reduced disease activity for people with multiple sclerosis (MS). The study is released today and will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 66th Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, April 26 to May 3, 2014.

For the study, 231 people with relapsing-remitting MS received either a placebo or one of several low dosages of the drug ofatumumab, which is an anti-B cell antibody, for 24 weeks, with the first 12 weeks making up the placebo-controlled period. The main objective was to determine the effects of ofatumumab dosing regimens compared to placebo on the total number of new brain lesions assessed every four weeks over a 12-week period.

All dose groups including placebo showed lesion activity in the first four weeks with lesion suppression in all ofatumumab dose groups from weeks four to12. Researchers measured the amount of B cells in participants and compared that to the total number of new brain lesions that appeared on brain scans, which is a marker of disease activity.

The researchers found that when B cells were reduced to below a threshold of 64 cells per microliter, , as measured by appearance of new , was significantly reduced. On average, participants had an annualized rate of less than one new brain lesion per year when B cells were maintained below a threshold of 32 to 64 cells per microliter, compared with 16 lesions without treatment.

The most common side effects, defined as those occurring in at least five percent of participants and at a rate twice that of for weeks zero to12, were injection-related reaction, dizziness, anxiety, fever, and nerve pain.

Study author Daren Austin, PhD, of GlaxoSmithKline in Uxbridge, United Kingdom, and a member of the American Academy of Neurology, said the study results also suggest that peripheral, rather than central, B cells may be the most relevant target for anti-B cell therapy.

"These results need to be validated, of course, but the findings are interesting," Austin said. "They provide new insight into the mechanism of B in MS and present a possible new target threshold for exploring the potential benefit of anti-B cell therapy."

Ofatumumab is not approved anywhere in the world for use in the treatment of multiple scelorosis.

Explore further: ONO-4641 pill reduced number of MS lesions in Phase II trial

Related Stories

ONO-4641 pill reduced number of MS lesions in Phase II trial

April 16, 2012

An investigational oral drug called ONO-4641 reduced the number of lesions in people with multiple sclerosis (MS), according to the results of a phase two clinical trial to be presented as Emerging Science (formerly known ...

Could a vaccine help ward off multiple sclerosis?

December 4, 2013

A vaccine used to prevent tuberculosis in other parts of the world may help prevent multiple sclerosis (MS) in people who show the beginning signs of the disease, according to a new study published in the December 4, 2013, ...

Study identifies protein to repair damaged brain tissue in MS

February 7, 2014

Vittorio Gallo, PhD, Director of the Center for Neuroscience Research at Children's National Health System, and other researchers have found a "potentially novel therapeutic target" to reduce the rate of deterioration and ...

New drugs offer hope for migraine prevention

April 22, 2014

Two new studies may offer hope for people with migraine. The two studies released today will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 66th Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, April 26 to May 3, 2014.

Recommended for you

New insights on how cocaine changes the brain

November 25, 2015

The burst of energy and hyperactivity that comes with a cocaine high is a rather accurate reflection of what's going on in the brain of its users, finds a study published November 25 in Cell Reports. Through experiments conducted ...

Can physical exercise enhance long-term memory?

November 25, 2015

Exercise can enhance the development of new brain cells in the adult brain, a process called adult neurogenesis. These newborn brain cells play an important role in learning and memory. A new study has determined that mice ...

Umbilical cells help eye's neurons connect

November 24, 2015

Cells isolated from human umbilical cord tissue have been shown to produce molecules that help retinal neurons from the eyes of rats grow, connect and survive, according to Duke University researchers working with Janssen ...

Brain connections predict how well you can pay attention

November 24, 2015

During a 1959 television appearance, Jack Kerouac was asked how long it took him to write his novel On The Road. His response – three weeks – amazed the interviewer and ignited an enduring myth that the book was composed ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.