Alemtuzumab is a highly effective FDA-approved treatment for relapsing-remitting MS, but compared to other MS drugs the risk of serious side effects is high.
Alemtuzumab works by killing certain types of cells made by the immune system (T and B cells). These cells normally attack viruses and bacteria, but in MS they attack the myelin which covers the nerves in the brain and spinal cord. Alemtuzumab stops these cells from reaching the brain and spinal cord before they can damage the nerves there.
In 2012, two clinical trials (called CARE MS-I and CARE MS-II) assessed the effects of alemtuzumab in comparison with subcutaneous interferon beta-1a. Both studies found that alemtuzumab was superior to interferon as assessed by number of attacks in people with MS.
In the current study, investigators reported further information on MRI outcomes of these two studies. A total of 1,248 people with relapsing-remitting MS were included, and were followed for two years. Investigators found that alemtuzumab is superior to interferon in reducing disease activity on MRI and brain shrinkage (which could be a result of the death of brain cells). The results of this new study confirm and complement the evidence for superiority of alemtuzumab in comparison with the interferon beta-1a, using MRI.
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