How effective is alemtuzuma as an immunosuppressant for treating MS?

Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Practitioner

Alemtuzumab is one of the more effective treatments for preventing MS relapses. It is more effective than interferon beta-1a for reducing relapses, and people who have had alemtuzumab treatment have less disability. MRI signs of MS-related nervous system damage are also lower in people who have had this treatment. 

This answer was adapted from Sharecare's award-winning AskMD app. Start a consultation now to find out what's causing your symptoms, learn how to manage a condition, or find a doctor.

Dr. Louis Rosner

Alemtuzumab is a monoclonal antibody usually classified as an immunosuppressant. In a study of 29 secondary-progressive multiple sclerosis (MS) patients who received a five-day pulse of the drug, alemtuzumab improved magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and clinical markers of disease for at least eighteen months following treatment. However, 15 patients continued to experience progressive disability. More ominously, one third of treated patients developed autoimmune hyperthyroidism. In early active relapsing-remitting MS, the drug reduced relapses 75 percent and the risk of disability 60 percent, compared to interferon beta-la. However, 3 patients developed ITP, a condition that reduces platelet count and may cause abnormal bleeding. One patient died. Use of alemtuzumab has been temporarily suspended, while dosing and toxicity issues are addressed.

Multiple Sclerosis

More About this Book

Multiple Sclerosis

Too often, multiple sclerosis is thought of only as "the crippler of young adults." But in fact, 75 percent of all people with MS will never need a wheelchair. In Multiple Sclerosis, Dr. Louis J....

Continue Learning about Blood Modifier Agent

Which foods and drugs interact with blood thinning medications?
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MDDr. Mehmet Oz, MD
The following list provides the most common and easily avoided sources of adverse drug reactions...
More Answers
What is the right way to take my blood-thinning medication?
Intermountain HealthcareIntermountain Healthcare
If you are taking blood thinners:Call your healthcare provider if you notice bleeding from your gums...
More Answers
What are the side effects of Alemtuzumab?
Donna Hill Howes, RNDonna Hill Howes, RN
Alemtuzumab has many side effects. The most common include headache, fatigue, fever, inflamed sinuse...
More Answers
What are blood thinners?
Grant Cooper, MDGrant Cooper, MD
The term "blood thinner" generally refers to drugs such as warfarin (Coumadin), Plavix, or aspirin, ...
More Answers

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.