A pilot safety study of ublituximab, a monoclonal antibody against CD20, in acute relapses of neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder

Maureen A. Mealy, Michael Levy

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OBJECTIVE: To test the safety of ublituximab, a B cell depleting agent, as add-on therapy in the acute treatment of relapses of neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder. METHODS: We conducted an open-label phase 1b safety and proof-of-concept trial in 5 subjects with aquaporin-4 (AQP4)-immunoglobulin G (IgG) seropositive neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD) who presented with acute transverse myelitis and/or optic neuritis. In addition to treating with 1 g of daily intravenous methylprednisolone, we infused a single dose of 450 mg of ublituximab within 5 days of relapse onset. The primary outcome measure was safety, and the secondary efficacy measures included change in Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS), durability of remission and B cell counts. RESULTS: Five NMOSD subjects were enrolled, 4 of whom presented with acute transverse myelitis and 1 with acute optic neuritis. Ublituximab proved to be safe in all 5 NMOSD subjects, with no serious adverse events recorded. There were no opportunistic infections in any of the subjects; however, 1 subject experienced a transient leukopenia. EDSS scores dropped from a median of 6.5 on admission to 4.0 on 90-day follow up. Two subjects did not achieve total B cell depletion and relapsed within 3 months. CONCLUSIONS: Ublituximab is a safe add-on therapy for NMOSD patients presenting with acute transverse myelitis and optic neuritis. Preliminary evidence suggests a promising benefit on durability of remission when B cell depletion is achieved. A placebo-controlled trial is necessary to confirm these findings. CLASSIFICATION OF EVIDENCE: This study provides Class IV evidence that for patients with NMOSD with acute transverse myelitis or optic neuritis, ublituximab is safe and may improve neurological outcome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e15944
Issue number25
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2019


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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