Rituxan MS treatment is cell specific.  Instead of attacking T-cells, the B-cells are reduced in the Rituxan, Multiple Sclerosis off-label use of this popular and widely used cancer drug.  It is thought that the B-cells may play a critical role in the relapse rate of the debilitating disease.  So in finding this new use of Rituxan, MS researchers may have also found a new avenue to pursue in fighting MS by discovering a possible new cause of it.  It is known from previous research with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma that the drug depletes the B-cells.  And since the relapse rate was so significantly reduced in the Rituxan MS trials, the focus has now shifted to finding out just what role these B-cells play.  Until recently, therapies for MS have focused primarily the T-cells, another immune cell that attacks the fatty myelin coating that insulates the nerves.  It may be that B-cells may play a similar role.  So while testing Rituxan, Multiple Sclerosis relapse rate reduction may take another route as well.

And the reduction of brain lesions happened quickly – within a month after the initial dosing.  More importantly, the reductions were sustained throughout the trial period of 48 weeks.


So far the Rituxan MS trials scope is small and limited to the RRMS variety of the disease


Larger trials are needed to make sure the results aren’t due to other factors not considered and controlled, and to be sure that serious side effects don’t show up in wider MS patient groups.  Trials are already underway in the effects of Rituxan Multiple Sclerosis primary progressive treatment.  The PPMS is a more severe form of the disease.

There are also studies using a modified version of the drug called ocrelizumab.  This study is targeting younger patients to see if in the modified Rituxan, MS patients might be able to withstand a longer treatment period of repeated doses without damaging side effects.  This is more important than it might appear at first glance.  As debilitating as MS is, it does not significantly reduce the life expectancy of its victims.  It just makes their life more miserable.  So a younger patient may be on a drug therapy for a considerable amount of years.  It would be counter-productive to develop a drug that reduced the symptoms or relapse rates if it reduced the life expectancy as well.  Of course, for elderly patients, quality of life would be the most important consideration.

Whether the drug itself is helpful remains to be seen and proved, but perhaps the more important result is the new paths to relief that have been opened that may lead to even more promising treatments.  Discuss this off-label use with your Doctor to see if it is something that you want to explore further.  While discussing Rituxan, Multiple Sclerosis patients would be advised to discuss other possible off-label uses of some other drugs.