#ECTRIMS2021: a potential cure?

Barts-MS rose-tinted-odometer: ★★★★★★★
A 7-Starred Bright Pink Sunday Special #ff007f

Some asked about the 10-year alemtuzumab follow-up data. Here are the headline results:

  1. 60% of subjects are free of disability worsening.

2. 50% had confirmed improvement in disability.

3. Annualized brain volume loss consistently below 0.2% (essentially normal).

4. Tragically, the trial subjects who were randomised to interferon-beta for the first 2-years never catch up; time really is brain and spinal cord.

As you will see these results are clouded by a 40% drop-out rate and hence may be enriched for responders. However, these results still support hitting MS early and hard with an IRT will result in a significant number of pwMS going into long-term remission. 

I did the TOPAZ exit assessments of a large number of study subjects for both the CARE-MS1 and CARE-MS2 cohorts and I have never seen so many people with MS living normal lives with no disability in long-term remission, but still carrying around the label of having MS.

Wouldn’t it be great to be able to tell some of these pwMS you are cured? 

GE115-21EB-ECTRIMS-2021_Giovannoni_TOPAZ-CARE-MS-II-Poster_vp03_27Sep2021

Knowing what MS can do to people and seeing these results who wouldn’t want to be treated with, or at least offered the option of being treated with, alemtuzumab or another IRT when they are diagnosed? 

Giovannoni et al. Early treatment with alemtuzumab maintains its efficacy on clinical and MRI disease activity outcomes, including slowing of brain volume loss, over 10 years in RRMS patients: CARE-MS II follow-up (TOPAZ Study). ECTRIMS 2021, P722.

Introduction: In CARE-MS II (NCT00548405), alemtuzumab (12 mg/day; baseline: 5 days; 12 months later: 3 days) significantly improved clinical/MRI outcomes versus SC IFNB-1a over 2 years (y) in RRMS patients with inadequate response to prior therapy and further minimised disease in a 4-y extension study (NCT00930553). Further follow-up was available in an additional 5-y extension, TOPAZ (NCT02255656).

Aims: Evaluate the efficacy and safety of alemtuzumab in CARE-MS II patients over 10 y.

Methods: At investigator discretion, patients in TOPAZ can receive additional alemtuzumab as needed for disease activity (≥12 months apart) or other disease-modifying therapy (DMT) at any time.

Results: Proportions of patients remaining on study after 10 y were 62% (271/435) among those treated initially with alemtuzumab in the core study and 73% (107/146) among those treated with SC IFNB-1a for 2 y before switching to alemtuzumab in the extensions. In the extension studies, 39% of the alemtuzumab group did not receive further treatment (alemtuzumab or other DMT). Among the alemtuzumab group over the combined core and extension studies, 71% of patients had stable/improved EDSS scores, the mean change in EDSS score was +0.34, 58% of patients were free of 6-month confirmed disability worsening, and 49% achieved 6-month confirmed disability improvement. In Y10, the annualised relapse rate was 0.11, 71% of patients were free of MRI disease activity, 92% were free of new gadolinium-enhancing lesions, and 72% were free of new/enlarging T2 hyperintense lesions. The median annual brain volume loss was ≤0.19% each year over Y3–10. Alemtuzumab had a consistent safety profile over 10 y, with the incidence of overall adverse events (AEs) and infections declining through Y10. Cumulative incidence of thyroid AEs was 44% and immune thrombocytopaenia was 4%. Efficacy and safety in SC IFNB-1a–treated patients from the core study who switched to alemtuzumab in the extension were consistent with those treated with alemtuzumab in both the core and extension.

Conclusions: Early treatment efficacy with alemtuzumab on clinical, MRI lesion, and brain volume outcomes was maintained over 10 y in CARE-MS II patients, with 62% remaining on study and 39% receiving no additional courses or other DMTs through Y10. Safety remained consistent and manageable over 10 y, with declining AE incidences over time, including a consistent reduction in autoimmune AE occurrence after Y3.

Conflicts of Interest

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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.