Friday, 9 September 2011

Research: Alemtuzumab treatment of Interferon-Unresponsive MS

Fox EJ, Sullivan HC, Gazda SK, Mayer L, O'Donnell L, Melia K, Lake SL. A single-arm, open-label study of alemtuzumab in treatment-refractory patients with multiple sclerosis Eur J Neurol. 2011 [Epub ahead of print].

This is more of the same (good) news, with regard to Alemtuzumab. This un-controlled and unblinded study indicates that Alemtuzumab (an antibody that kills white blood cells) quells disease activity in MSers who have relapses that do not appear to be responding to beta intereferon. The rate of relapses dropped by over 90% compared to that before treatment and about 85% of people had stable or improved signs of disease after a 2 year follow up. The main side effect is that a significant proportion of people went on to develop a new disease of the thyroid gland.

Although this drug is not without some serious dangers, It clearly shows that at least the relapsing part of multiple sclerosis is controlled by the activity of white blood cells, "as was shown in animal studies many years ago"

The question will be" if the regulators consider the safety profile acceptable, how much is this drug going to be?".

CoI: None


  1. Dr Mouse,

    Thanks for this - received my infusions 4 and 5 years go. Best thing I ever did. They monitor you very closely and the side effects e.g. Graves' are treatable. Shouldn't be ultra expensive as you only need two infusions and then it's wait and see (and its a cancer treatment already). Injectibles are £10k+ a year and you are on them for years.

  2. The company will find a way to make it 'ultra expensive' for MS. They may decide to sacrifice earnings from cancer.

  3. I share your concerns....

    For example..Avastin is an anti-cancer drug that could be used to treat an eye condition. However this needed only a fraction of the amount drug compared to treatment of bowel cancer. So one vial of drug could be used to treat many people with the eye disease. The company making the anti-cancer drug developed a version for the eye disease costing 40 times more and also stopped people using avastin for the eye disease. People with MS use a fraction of CAMPATH (Alemtuzumab) used for cancer. At the current price, it should be cheaper than any current MS drugs, but doubt it will be. Let's wait and see after it becomes an approved drug.

    The name for the MS version will be Lemtrada, less you forget it is the same as CAMPATH.



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