Natalizumab was the first monoclonal antibody to be approved for the treatment of relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) based on its short-term efficacy and overall tolerability. However, the incidence of treatment-associated progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML), an infection of the brain caused by the John Cunningham virus, jeopardized this efficacious treatment from the beginning. Eight years after licensing of natalizumab, long-term studies confirm the considerable and sustained efficacy of natalizumab, although the PML complication still threatens one of the most successful treatments available for RRMS. During these years, considerable progress has been made in identification of risk factors that allow more effective management of PML risk. In addition, long-term studies to define better when to start or stop treatment and to optimize treatment strategies after cessation of natalizumab are ongoing, and hopefully will improve management and will allow natalizumab to remain as a valuable therapeutic option for patients with highly active RRMS.
Keywords: multiple sclerosis; progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy; therapy.