How effective is alemtuzuma as an immunosuppressant for treating MS?

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....
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.

Continue Learning about Blood Modifier Agent

What is alemtuzumab?
Donna Hill Howes, RNDonna Hill Howes, RN
Alemtuzumab (Lemtrada) is an antibody that helps balance the immune system and prevent immune cells ...
More Answers
What should I know before taking alemtuzumab?
Donna Hill Howes, RNDonna Hill Howes, RN
Before you start treatment, your doctor will need to do a complete blood count, serum creatinine mea...
More Answers
What are blood thinners?
Intermountain HealthcareIntermountain Healthcare
Anticoagulants and platelet inhibitors (aka blood thinners) cause your blood to take longer to clot,...
More Answers
Why do I need to take blood thinners after a heart valve replacement?
Abdul J. Tajik, MDAbdul J. Tajik, MD
Mechanical heart valves require that you take an anticoagulant medication (sometimes referred to as ...
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.