MS affects brain cells. In contrast to cells of other organs, brain cells are not in close contact with blood, and nutrients or immune cells that are prevalent in blood need to cross barriers with the help of intermediate cells in order to reach brain cells.
For a long time, researchers have been looking at a shortcut to the environment where brain cells have direct access. Injections into spinal membranes from the lower back of the body (intrathecal) rather than injections into veins (intravenous), can provide this shortcut.
Rituximab is an injectable drug effective in autoimmune diseases by deactivating special immune cells of the body. Researchers tested whether giving Rituximab direct access to the brain environment could help people with MS.
The results of this study on a limited number of people with secondary-progressive MS, however, failed to show any benefit for Rituximab and the study was discontinued. This study tells us why this family of drugs (known as monoclonal antibodies) have poor results when administered intrathecally in progressive MS.
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