Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a condition that has, so far, been proven to be a very difficult opponent. The things we know about it are very limited, even though it is not that rare among people. Over the years, scientists have developed more than a few treatment options, all of which had just little success. However, this may soon change.
A new drug called Ocrelizumab is here to bring hope to patients all around the world. Before analyzing the study and its results, it would be helpful to mention a few things about MS.
It is classified as an autoimmune disease since the patient's own immune system attacks the spinal cord and also the brain, causing various issues including severe movement problems. There are two types of MS: primary progressive and relapsing remitting. The terms are pretty much self explanatory. The former has certain symptoms that eventually get worse while the latter has symptoms that come and go.
The study was conducted by various experts and researchers from 16 different medical institutions in 7 different countries. It included a total of 1656 patients aging from 18 to 55 separated in two independent groups. Random members of the group were given the aforementioned drug while others took interferon, the standard treatment option for MS. The whole study lasted 2 years and the results turned out quite promising.
Patients who were treated with Ocrelizumab had their relapsing symptoms’ frequency reduced by about 50% while the ones suffering from the primary progressive type had the rate of their symptoms reduced a lot more than the ones using interferon. Sadly, there were also some side effects, some of which were severe.
The effectiveness of the drug is mainly based on its ability to suppress the immune system, thus preventing it from attacking the two areas described in the beginning of the article. This can lead to the appearance of minor side effects like flushing and skin rashes in about one third of the patients who used it.
But there is also another piece of data concerning the side effects which is worrying, to say the least. The group using Ocrelizumab had 4 incidents of developing cancer when the interferon group had only two.
The connection between the drugs and the appearance of cancer has not been verified yet, but it is definitely something that requires extensive studying and research in order to make sure that this new drug does not put the patients' lives in such great danger.