Ocrelizumab marks an important milestone in research and treatment for progressive MS

Over 20 years ago, the first disease modifying therapy was approved in Canada for relapsing remitting MS, and since then we have seen 10 more disease modifying therapies be developed and come to market. The advent of therapies has very much changed the landscape in treatment for those who live with MS.

Currently there are no approved therapies for those who live with progressive MS. The presentation at ECTRIMS regarding the experimental monoclonal antibody ocrelizumab showed that treatment significantly slowed progression of disability compared to placebo in a phase III clinical trial involving 732 people with primary progressive MS may very well have the same impact that we saw with the first treatment for relapsing-remitting MS 20 years ago. The presentation was delivered by Dr. Xavier Montalban, who acted as a leader in the clinical trial that included Canadian clinical sites. The evidence he presented provides hope for those living with progressive MS, as he noted that, “this might be what we have been looking for for progressive MS”.

What we heard and witnessed at ECTRIMS is the start of what will most likely be enormous progress in the treatment of those living with progressive MS. It was an exciting day and I look forward to what the future holds!

We bumped into Dr. Amit Bar-Or (McGill University, Montréal, QC) at ECTRIMS and asked him to weigh in on this “game-changing” development in the progressive MS treatment landscape. Dr. Bar-Or – along with colleagues Dr. Jennifer Gommerman (University of Toronto, Toronto, ON) and Dr. Alexandre Prat (Université de Montréal, Montréal, QC)  – heads a $3.6 million grant that was awarded last year by the MS Society and MS Scientific Research Foundation to investigate the role of B cells in MS. Since B cells are the target of ocrelizumab’s actions, Dr. Bar-Or is perfectly positioned to discuss the nuts and bolts of the ocrelizumab clinical trial, how the findings will impact people living with progressive MS, and how the research stemming from his team grant will help us understand B cells and their contribution to progressive MS even better. Watch the video below to get this exclusive perspective on ocrelizumab.

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