A newly approved Drug Treatment For Multiple Sclerosis that is the first to reflect the current scientific understanding of MS is holding new hope for the hundreds of thousands Americans living with the disease.It also highlights the importance of clinician-scientists like UC San Francisco’s Stephen Hauser, MD, who are working to transform research into cures for patients.The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday approved ocrelizumab (brand name Ocrevus) to treat both relapsing-remitting MS and primary progressive MS, the first time a therapy has been available for severe forms of the disease.This Drug Treatment For Multiple Sclerosis, the first that targets B cells in the human body, grew out of the work of Hauser, chair of neurology at UCSF, whose team persevered for decades in elucidating the science behind MS, defending findings that contradicted long-standing assumptions and translating the science into a therapy.
A Devastating Disease
In MS, the immune system attacks the protective myelin covering around nerve cells, stripping them like insulation from electrical wires. We now know, thanks in large part to Hauser and his colleagues, that immune cells known as B cells lead the attack, mistaking myelin protein for harmful agents. The attacks cause inflammation that disrupts the communication between nerve cells.The first episode of MS typically strikes in early adulthood and the disease advances over the years to devastating disability.