FDA approves first treatment for NMOSD

July 1, 2019

According to a press release, the FDA approved Soliris (eculizumab) injection for intravenous use for the treatment of neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD) in adult patients who are anti-aquaporin-4 (AQP4) antibody positive. NMOSD is an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system that mainly affects the optic nerves and spinal cord.

“Soliris provides the first FDA-approved treatment for neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder, a debilitating disease that profoundly impacts patients’ lives,” said Billy Dunn, MD, director of the Division of Neurology Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “This approval changes the landscape of therapy for patients with NMOSD. Having an approved therapy for this condition is the culmination of extensive work we have engaged in with drug companies to expedite the development and approval of safe and effective treatments for patients with NMOSD, and we remain committed to these efforts for other rare diseases.”

In patients with NMOSD, the body's immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells and proteins in the body, most often in the optic nerves and spinal cord. Individuals with NMOSD typically have attacks of optic neuritis, which causes eye pain and vision loss. Individuals also can have attacks resulting in transverse myelitis, which often causes numbness, weakness, or paralysis of the arms and legs, along with loss of bladder and bowel control. Most attacks occur in clusters, days to months to years apart, followed by partial recovery during periods of remission. Approximately 50 percent of patients with NMOSD have permanent visual impairment and paralysis caused by NMOSD attacks. According to the National Institutes of Health, women are more often affected by NMOSD than men and African Americans are at greater risk of the disease than Caucasians. Estimates vary, but NMOSD is thought to impact approximately 4,000 to 8,000 patients in the United States.

NMOSD can be associated with antibodies that bind to a protein called aquaporin-4 (AQP4). Binding of the anti-AQP4 antibody appears to activate other components of the immune system, causing inflammation and damage to the central nervous system.

The effectiveness of Soliris for the treatment of NMOSD was demonstrated in a clinical study of 143 patients with NMOSD who had antibodies against AQP4 (anti-AQP4 positive) who were randomized to receive either Soliris treatment or placebo. Compared to treatment with placebo, the study showed that treatment with Soliris reduced the number of NMOSD relapses by 94 percent over the 48-week course of the trial. Soliris also reduced the need for hospitalizations and the need for treatment of acute attacks with corticosteroids and plasma exchange.

FDA has more information        

Courtesy of Cellares
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