At the American Academy of Neurology (ANN) Annual Meeting recently held in Philadelphia PA, we talked with Hideki Garren, MD, PhD, Global Head of Multiple Sclerosis and Neuroimmunology at Genentech about neuromyelitis optica spectrum disease (NMOSD), a rare neurological disease that Roche is currently developing a drug to treat.

As Dr. Garren explains in this clip, NMO is very different than another neuromuscular disease that Roche is studying – multiple sclerosis.

“Many people are familiar with multiple sclerosis. NMOSD is a rare autoimmune disease which affects women more than men. It is different (from MS) in that it is quite rare, affecting less than 5 per 100,000 patients throughout the world.”

It is also different from MS is that a NMOSD relapse can dramatically affect the patient. “A single relapse, patients can become blind or completely paralyzed. And in some rare cases, they can even die. So, it is different from multiple sclerosis in that sense,” added Dr. Garren.

Roche is currently studying the safety and efficacy of  satralizumab, an anti-interleukin-6 (IL-6) receptor humanized recycling antibody, to treat NMOSD.  The company has 2 phase 3 clinical trials testing the drug in NMOSD. Data from 1 of those trials, the SAkuraSky study, was presented at the AAN meeting.

Dr. Garren said, “SAkuraSky is a phase 3 study in which satralizumab was added onto baseline immunosuppressive treatments (and compared against placebo) and there we saw significant reductions in relapses.”

Dr. Garren added that subgroup analysis showed that NMOSD patients testing positive for AQP4 antibody had even a better response to satraliumab treatment. 

NMOSD is a rare autoimmune disease of the central nervous system that damages the optic nerve and spinal cord, causing blindness, muscle weakness, and paralysis.


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