Rituximab has been used to treat patients with cancers such as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL), and various autoimmune diseases. Recently, a study sought to understand whether rituximab treatment would be safe and efficacious in pediatric patients with moderate-to-severe myasthenia gravis (MG). According to an article at Rare Disease Advisor, a research team from King’s College London performed a retrospective study to analyze the potential benefits of rituximab for this patient group. This is a particularly interesting study as, typically, rituximab is only considered for adult patients with refractory MG.
The data, published in the European Journal of Paediatric Neurology, encompassed information from 10 pediatric patients with MG. Following treatment, over 50% of the patients experienced complete disease remission. In fact, the response was so great that certain patients were able to receive reduced immunomodulatory therapy.
The study also found that, because of the treatment, patients spent less time pursuing or needing medical attention, such as hospitalization. Altogether, the treatment was found to be relatively safe and well-tolerated. While some adverse reactions did occur, these tended to be infusion-site reactions which were later resolved.
What is Rituximab?
Rituximab is an injectable biologic therapy designed to treat a variety of conditions. It is considered to be a monoclonal antibody treatment which targets the CD20 protein. Learn more about rituximab here.
Learn about Myasthenia Gravis (MG)
The aptly named myasthenia gravis (MG; “grave muscle weakness”) is a progressive autoimmune neuromuscular disorder which causes weakness and fatigue in voluntarily controlled muscle groups. For patients with MG, their immune system mistakenly attacks proteins needed for nerve and muscle communication. There are rare sub-forms of MG, such as congenital, transient neonatal, and juvenile. Typically, MG symptoms worsen with activity and often get better with rest. Symptoms can include:
- Double vision
- Drooping eyelids
- Slurred speech
- Difficulty chewing or swallowing
- Shortness of breath
- Weakness and fatigue of arm, eye, leg, mouth, or throat muscles
- Changes in gait
- Serious and life-threatening respiratory complications (in 10% of diagnoses)