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Safety and Tolerability of Rituximab in Neuromyelitis Optica

The safety and scientific validity of this study is the responsibility of the study sponsor and investigators. Listing a study does not mean it has been evaluated by the U.S. Federal Government. Read our disclaimer for details. Identifier: NCT00501748
Recruitment Status : Completed
First Posted : July 16, 2007
Last Update Posted : September 27, 2011
Genentech, Inc.
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
University of California, San Francisco

Brief Summary:
The goal of this research study is to investigate whether Rituximab is safe to use in patients suffering from NMO, or who are at high risk for developing NMO. It is thought that NMO is caused by the immune system reacting against the optic nerves and spinal cord. B cells are a part of the immune system that may contribute to the illness. Rituximab is an antibody that depletes B cells. Depletion of these B cells with Rituximab may induce remission of the disease. Because pathological and serological studies suggest that NMO appears to be, at least in part, a B-cell mediated disease Rituximab, is an attractive treatment candidate for this disease.

Condition or disease Intervention/treatment Phase
Neuromyelitis Optica Drug: Rituximab Phase 1

Detailed Description:

Rituximab is a genetically engineered, chimeric, murine/human monoclonal antibody directed against the CD20 antigen found on the surface of normal and malignant pre-B and mature B cells. The antibody is an IgG1 immunoglobulin containing murine light- and heavy chain variable region sequences and human constant region sequences. Rituximab is composed of two heavy chains of 451 amino acids and two light chains of 213 amino acids (based on cDNA analysis) and has an approximate molecular mass of 145 kD. Rituximab has a binding affinity for the CD20 antigen of ~8.0 nM.

Rituximab was developed by Biogen Idec and Genentech, Inc. It was approved by the FDA in 1997 for the treatment of relapsed or refractory low grade or follicular, CD20+, B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL).

Rituximab has also been studied in a variety of non-malignant autoimmune disorders where B cells and auto antibodies appear to play a role in pathophysiology. Rituximab has been reported to relieve signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis , lupus , immune thrombocytopenia , autoimmune anemia , autoimmune neuropathy , and paraneoplastic opsoclonus/myoclonus .

A Phase II study (WA16291) has been completed in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) . A total of 161 patients were randomized to 4 treatment arms: Methotrexate, Rituximab alone, Rituximab and Methotrexate, Rituximab and Cyclophosphamide. Two doses of Rituximab, 1 gm each, were administered IV two weeks apart. Infusion reactions were observed in 36% of patients during their first infusion of Rituximab compared to 30% for placebo . Four Rituximab-treated patients developed serious infections, for a rate of 4.6 per 100 patient years. For context, the rate of infections requiring hospital admission was 9.57 per 100 patient years in a community based epidemiologic study in RA.

We treated 8 patients with NMO with Rituximab and observed that Rituximab appears to be well tolerated with 0/8 of the patients suffering serious adverse reactions that could be directly related to Rituximab administration. Moreover, 7/8 patients experienced decrease in neurological disability following treatment, suggesting that B-cell depletion may enhance neurological recovery from attacks. 7/8 of the patients remained attack-free within a period of 18 months of follow-up on average (range 3 to 12 months) following treatment. We observed one attack following treatment in a single patient, whereas 14 attacks would have been predicted by the pre-treatment attack rate (p=0.012, paired t test comparing pre- and post-treatment attack rates). Nevertheless, the observed impact of treatment on recovery is more than what would be expected from spontaneous recovery and deserves further investigation. If B cells are essential for pathogenesis of recurrent attacks in NMO, B cell depletion may induce sustained remission. We also observed in one case, a dramatic recovery of electrophysiological conduction in the optic nerves (visual evoked potentials), which implies that in this case, rituxan did not impair repair mechanisms, for example, demyelination following the acute attack.

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Study Type : Interventional  (Clinical Trial)
Actual Enrollment : 20 participants
Allocation: N/A
Intervention Model: Single Group Assignment
Masking: None (Open Label)
Primary Purpose: Treatment
Official Title: Open Label Study of Safety and Tolerability of Rituximab in Neuromyelitis Optica, Recurrent Transverse Myelitis and Recurrent Bilateral Simultaneous Optic Neuritis
Study Start Date : January 2004
Actual Primary Completion Date : December 2010
Actual Study Completion Date : December 2010

Arm Intervention/treatment
Experimental: Rituximab Drug: Rituximab
Rituximab is a highly purified, 1328-amino acid antibody with an approximate molecular mass of 145 kD. Rituximab is a sterile, clear, colorless, preservative-free liquid concentrate for intravenous (IV) administration. Rituximab is supplied at a concentration of 10 mg/mL in either 100 mg (10 mL) or 500 mg (50 mL) single-use vials. In this single arm study all subjects are treated with two cycles of rituximab. Each cycle consists of two 1000 mg infusions administered two weeks apart. The cycles of rituximab treatment are administered at baseline and at 9 months.
Other Name: Rituxan

Primary Outcome Measures :
  1. Safety and Tolerability of Rituximab in NMO (monitor for any AE during two years of follow up) [ Time Frame: 96 weeks ]

Secondary Outcome Measures :
  1. Time from treatment to recurrence of either optic neuritis or myelitis [ Time Frame: 96 weeks ]
  2. Change in Kurtzke expanded disability status scale (EDSS) at weeks 4, 12, 24, 48, 72, 96 [ Time Frame: 96 weeks ]

Information from the National Library of Medicine

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Ages Eligible for Study:   12 Years to 86 Years   (Child, Adult, Older Adult)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   No

Inclusion criteria

  1. Criteria for neuromyelitis optica:

    1. acute transverse myelitis and optic neuritis occurring within 30 days of each other followed by a second attack of either optic neuritis and/or acute transverse myelitis at least 3 months following the heralding attack OR
    2. acute transverse myelitis followed by optic neuritis at least 3 months later OR
    3. optic neuritis followed by acute transverse myelitis at least 3 months later
  2. Criteria for high risk for neuromyelitis optica:

    1. recurrent idiopathic recurrent acute transverse myelitis with at least 3 months time between each attack OR
    2. recurrent bilateral simultaneous optic neuritis with at least 3 months time between each attack.

      • Subjects should also have no clinical evidence of disease outside the optic nerve or spinal cord.
      • In addition patients should have one major supportive criteria OR two minor supportive criteria:

        1. Negative brain MRI at onset (Does not meet criteria for multiple sclerosis (Paty, 1998)
        2. Spinal cord MRI with signal abnormality extending over ≥3 vertebral segments
        3. CSF pleocytosis of > 50 WBC/mm3 OR > 5 PMNs/mm3
      • Minor supportive criteria:

        1. Bilateral optic neuritis
        2. Severe optic neuritis with fixed visual acuity worse than 20/200 in at least one eye
        3. Severe, fixed, attack-related weakness (MRC ≤2) in one or more limbs
      • Subjects must have exhibited evidence of treatment failure, defined as at least one attack of either acute transverse myelitis or optic neuritis within six months of screening despite treatment within steroids or other immunomodulatory drug for the preceding attack.
      • Able and willing to give written informed consent and comply with the requirements of the study protocol.
      • Adequate renal function as indicated by normal serum sodium, potassium, chloride, bicarbonate, creatinine, and blood urea nitrogen studies.
      • Adequate liver function, as indicated by normal bilirubin and alkaline phosphatase, and transaminases (AST and ALT) within 2X upper limit of normal.
      • Negative serum pregnancy test (for women of child bearing age).
      • Men and women of reproductive potential must agree to use an acceptable method of birth control during treatment and for twelve months (1 year) after completion of treatment.

Exclusion Criteria:

  1. Treatment with broad-spectrum immunosuppressant medications such as cyclophosphamide, mitoxantrone, methotrexate, azathioprine, and cladribine, within 60 days of screening.
  2. Treatment with any investigational agent within 4 weeks of screening
  3. Receipt of a live vaccine within 4 weeks prior to randomization
  4. Previous Treatment with Rituximab (MabThera® / Rituxan®)
  5. Prior antibody therapy
  6. History of exposure to clioquinol
  7. History of severe allergic or anaphylactic reactions to humanized or murine monoclonal antibodies
  8. History of HIV (positive HIV, HIV conducted during screening if applicable)
  9. History of Hepatitis B and/or Hepatitis C (Hep B/C at screening)
  10. History of recurrent significant infection or history of recurrent bacterial infections
  11. Known active bacterial, viral fungal mycobacterial, or other infection or any major episode of infection requiring hospitalization
  12. Ongoing daily steroid use
  13. History of drug, alcohol, or chemical abuse within 6 months prior to screening
  14. Pregnancy (a negative serum pregnancy test should be performed for all women of childbearing potential within 7 days of treatment) or lactation
  15. Concomitant malignancies or previous malignancies within the last five years, with the exception of adequately treated basal or squamous cell carcinoma of the skin or carcinoma in situ of the cervix.
  16. History of psychiatric disorder

Information from the National Library of Medicine

To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the contact information provided by the sponsor.

Please refer to this study by its identifier (NCT number): NCT00501748

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United States, California
UCSF MS Center , 350 Parnassus Ave , suite #908
San Francisco, California, United States, 94117
United States, New York
The Neurological Institute of New York MS Center
Columbia University Medical Center 710 West 168th Street,, New York, United States, 10032
Sponsors and Collaborators
University of California, San Francisco
Genentech, Inc.
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Principal Investigator: Bruce Cree, MD, PhD MS Center , UCSF
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Responsible Party: University of California, San Francisco Identifier: NCT00501748    
Other Study ID Numbers: H7620-25392-04
First Posted: July 16, 2007    Key Record Dates
Last Update Posted: September 27, 2011
Last Verified: September 2011
Keywords provided by University of California, San Francisco:
Neuromyelitis Optica
acute transverse myelitis
Additional relevant MeSH terms:
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Neuromyelitis Optica
Myelitis, Transverse
Demyelinating Autoimmune Diseases, CNS
Autoimmune Diseases of the Nervous System
Nervous System Diseases
Optic Neuritis
Optic Nerve Diseases
Cranial Nerve Diseases
Demyelinating Diseases
Eye Diseases
Autoimmune Diseases
Immune System Diseases
Antineoplastic Agents, Immunological
Antineoplastic Agents
Immunologic Factors
Physiological Effects of Drugs
Antirheumatic Agents