It is time to set in stone our #CrowdThink competition results. We had over 110 responses; thank you. If you want to know more about the rationale behind this competition you need to read my post on the DODO trial and the post explaining the rationale behind the COMPETITION.
Study 1: Oral Ponesimod Versus Teriflunomide In Relapsing MUltiple Sclerosis (OPTIMUM).
The Crowd has predicted that ponesimod will reduce the ARR (relative annualised relapse rate) and CDP (confirmed disability progression) compared to teriflunomide by 33.8% (interquartile range=24.5-44.3%) and 21.2% (interquartile range=10.0-25.0%), respectively.
This would suggest that ponesimod is probably batting in the same league as fingolimod. I wouldn’t put too much weight on the TRANSFORMS study that compared fingolimod to interferon-beta-1a. The majority of subjects were failing interferon who went into that study and were then randomised to fingolimod or back onto interferon-beta-1a. This study inflated fingolimod’s relative efficacy as it was being compared to interferon-beta failures on interferon-beta.
Study 2: Efficacy and Safety of Ofatumumab Compared to Teriflunomide in Patients With Relapsing Multiple Sclerosis (ASCLEPIOS I & II)
The Crowd has predicted that ofatumumab will reduce the ARR (relative annualised relapse rate) and CDP (confirmed disability progression) compared to teriflunomide by 41.2% (interquartile range=34.0-49.0%) and 29.3% (interquartile range=20.0-37.3%), respectively.
These results are interesting and broadly put ofatumumab in the same ballpark as ocrelizumab as well; 41% is close enough in my book to 47% for it not to register as being meaningfully different to ocrelizumab. In comparison, 29.3% for CDP is too far away from 40% to be dismissed. The question is this because of ofatumumab being inferior to ocrelizumab? Or teriflunomide is superior to interferon-beta-1a (Rebif)? I would favour the latter interpretation. The former interpretation would support the hypothesis for the need to target intrathecal B-cells and that the higher dose of ocrelizumab is superior at doing this compared to the smaller but more frequent ofatumumab dosing. These results would support us pushing for the DODO study to be done.
However, would it not be a more interesting story if ofatumumab out-performed ocrelizumab? This would be against my predictions, but it opens a new vista on how anti-CD20 therapies work. If ofatumumab outperforms ocrelizumab it would argue for a peripheral mode of action, i.e. keeping peripheral B-cells depleted continuously, rather than using intermittent depletion paradigm of rituximab and ocrelizumab. It would also challenge the hypothesis that we need to have CNS penetration for targeting of the intrathecal B-cell compartment.
The peripheral B-cell hypothesis would raise very interesting questions about whether or not anti-CD20 therapy is working as an anti-EBV agent and keeping the memory B cell compartment, which hosts EBV, suppressed.
I have already been criticised by a few people at this conference for my musings on the potential results of these trial. Don’t we live in a world where free and open thought is allowed? I speculate and write these sorts of posts deliberately to be controversial. But I would hope that they stimulate you to think more deeply about MS and what these results could mean for us and in particular people with MS.
Let’s hope it is not the same-old, same-old; i.e. another me too study of an anti-CD20. Let’s hope the results support either the central B-cell depletion hypothesis or the peripheral-continuous B-cell depletion hypothesis. The former supports our programme of activities to scrub the brain clean of B-cells and plasma cells and the latter to treat MS with anti-virals, in particular, anti-EBV drugs.
To conclude, I was very disappointed that two-thirds of you chose the MRI lego set over my #ThinkSocial T-shirt as a prize. I am clearly not a very good T-shirt designer ;-(