Future MS Therapy May Target B Cells

Targeting B cells may be linked to reduced disease activity for patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). Results from the study will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 66th Annual Meeting.

The study evaluated 231 patients with relapsing-remitting MS that received either a placebo or one of several low doses of ofatumumab, an anti-B cell antibody. Treatment duration lasted for 24 weeks with the first 12 weeks being the placebo-controlled period. The primary objective was to determine the effects of ofatumumab dosing regimens vs. placebo on the total number of new brain lesions assessed every 4 weeks over a 12-week period. Patients’ B cell levels were measured and compared to that of the total number of new brain lesions.

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When B cells were reduced to <64 cells/μL, the appearance of brain lesions was significantly reduced. Further, researchers found that when B cells were maintained below a threshold of 32–64 cells/μL, patients had an annualized rate of <1 new brain lesion per year vs. 16 lesions in those without treatment.

Study researchers added that the results suggest peripheral B cells may be the most optimal target for anti-B cell therapy rather than central B cells.

Ofatumumab is currently marketed as Arzerra (GlaxoSmithKline) and is approved for the treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) refractory to fludarabine and alemtuzumab.

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