Multiple sclerosis treatment more effective with older rheumatoid arthritis, lymphoma drug: New study

By: Emily Lunardo | Brain Function | Monday, May 16, 2016 - 12:30 PM

Multiple sclerosis treatment more effective with older rheumatoid arthritis, lymphoma drug: new studyMultiple sclerosis (MS) treatment is more effective with older rheumatoid arthritis and lymphoma drug, according to a new study. The drug is known as Mabthera, and it has been found to be more effective in treating multiple sclerosis than many intended MS drugs. Many current multiple sclerosis drugs have adverse side effects that limit their application.

The findings come from a Swedish study where 256 patients who were previously on a well-known MS drug Tysabri switched to either Gilenya or Mabthera. Principal investigator Fredrik Piehl said, “We found that patients treated with Mabthera ran a much lower risk of their MS flaring up after the change of drugs than those treated with Gilenya. Those who changed to Mabthera also had a lower risk of developing an adverse reaction to the new drug.”

Mabthera is an older drug used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and lymphoma, and although it hasn’t been formally approved for MS treatment many patients have switched to it and have shown successful outcomes. Professor Piehl added, “The results we’ve seen in this study provide strong support for the genuine efficacy of Mabthera in the treatment of high-inflammatory MS and for it being a valuable alternative to approved MS drugs for this category of patients. It would also bring considerable savings to the healthcare services as it is much cheaper than the regular MS drugs.”

Multiple sclerosis treatment with Tysabri therapy and its side effects

Multiple sclerosis patients treated with Tysabri (natalizumab) have a 10 times greater risk of developing a deadly brain virus, according to new findings. The virus – John Cunningham virus (JCV) – is a pathogen that causes a rare and deadly condition known as progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML).

The link between Tysabri and PML is not new. In fact, there have been numerous studies that have shown an increased risk of PML due to Tysabri use.

Experts still believe that although Tysabri may increase the risk of PML, it is still a beneficial medication for multiple sclerosis patients, and doctors should weigh the pros and cons when prescribing it.

The researchers explained that the virus is typically well managed by the body’s own immune system, but it can become serious in patients with a weakened immune system.

The study involved 525 German and 711 French multiple sclerosis patients who were all on Tysabri. Both groups of patients had their blood levels monitored for JCV antibodies over the course of 15 months and two years, respectively.
Antibodies for JCV were higher in patients taking Tysabri, which reveals exposure to the virus, thus increasing the risk of developing PML. Research lead Dr. Heinz Wiendl said, “An increase in the levels of anti-JCV antibodies could signify an increased risk of PML.”

Tysabri “did appear to increase the levels of anti-JCV antibodies, and this higher level may be associated with a higher risk of PML. The results of this study underscore the need for frequent monitoring of anti-JCV antibodies in people who are being treated with [Tysabri] for multiple sclerosis.” – Dr. Wiendl explained.

Aside form raising the risk of a dangerous brain infection, Tysabri can also increase the risk of headaches, fatigue, depression, joint pain, and menstrual problems.

Speak to your doctor about side effects or any concerns you may have with Tysabri.


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Related Reading:

Multiple sclerosis drug increases the risk of a deadly brain virus

Multiple sclerosis vs. ALS: Differences in symptoms, causes, and treatment

Sources:

http://ki.se/en/news/older-rheumatoid-arthritis-drug-is-more-effective-against-ms-than-newer-costlier-drug
http://www.webmd.com/multiple-sclerosis/guide/tysabri-therapy-multiple-sclerosis

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