Multiple Sclerosis Drug Triggers Severe Adverse Events, Lancet Neurology Reveals

Published: Jan 20, 2017

The multiple sclerosis (MS) drug alemtuzumab causes severe and unpredictable adverse events (AEs), according to a new study.

Alemtuzumab is a therapeutic antibody that attaches to the CD52 protein found on the surface of T and B lymphocytes, and results in the depletion of almost all lymphocytes. Since its approval, it is known that a quarter of patients treated with alemtuzumab display mostly minor AEs, called secondary autoimmune processes.

In a study published in Lancet Neurology, 2 patients with highly-active MS were infused with alemtuzumab. Despite multiple prior treatments, the patients suffered from severe illness relapses with inflammation in the central nervous system. After 6 months of treatment with alemtuzumab, the symptoms worsened significantly.

Using an MRI, the investigators discovered a kind of new inflammation mode, where vast areas in the brain had numerous ring-enhancing lesions, according to the study. This pattern was not displayed in the patients’ previous medical history.

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