Barts-MS rose-tinted-odometer: ★★★ (I am seeing blue and Spanish yellow today)
Roche blue (#0066CC) & Novartis Spanish Yellow (#F7B516)
Yes, I really do think that intrathecal (within the meninges that cover the brain and spinal cord) or CNS resident B-cells and plasma cells are pathogenic in MS. In other words, the cytokine or chemicals B-cells and plasma cells produce, in particular their antibodies, are what is driving some of the pathologies of smouldering MS. The evidence to support this hypothesis is well rehearsed on this blog and is the reason why we are testing high-dose ocrelizumab (more CNS penetrant) vs. standard-dose ocrelizumab (less CNS penetrant) against each other in two head-2-head studies. It is also the reason we are testing cladribine’s (CLADRIPLAS and CLAD-B) and ixazomib’s (SIZOMUS) effects in intrathecal B and plasma cell markers. Yes, I really do think we need to scrub the CNS clean of B-cells, plasma cells and their products, in particular the oligoclonal IgG bands.
I am therefore proposing a new study; the HIgh-dose versus LOw-dose anti-CD20 study or HILO Study.
In this study, I propose testing high-dose or double-dose ocrelizumab vs. standard or intermediate-dose ocrelizumab vs. low-dose ofatumumab against each other over two years and measure their impact on end-organ damage markers (slowly expanding lesions and brain volume loss) and on CSF markers of B-cell, plasma cell and microglial activity. The latter will include free kappa and lambda immunoglobulin light chains, OCBs, soluble CD14, etc. This will answer at least from a biomarker question whether or not we need CNS penetration of anti-CD20 monoclonal antibodies to target this component of smouldering MS. The following would also answer the question of whether or not you as a person with MS would want to be treated with high-dose or low-dose anti-CD20 therapy?
Would you want to be randomised into this study?
This study would be a clash of the titans; Roche vs. Novartis. Who would win? It really is not that important as Novartis is a major shareholder in Roche and hence when Roche makes a profit so does Novartis. The real winners will be people with MS, the data will allow them to make an informed decision about whether or not they want to go beyond NEIDA (no evident inflammatory disease activity) and be on a treatment that tackles the smouldering B-cell and plasma-cell driven processes within their brains and spinal cords.
SHOULD WE DO THE HILO STUDY?
General Disclaimer: Please note that the opinions expressed here are those of Professor Giovannoni and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry nor Barts Health NHS Trust and are not meant to be interpreted as personal clinical advice.