Monoclonal antibody (mAb) therapies for relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (MS) target immune cells or other molecules involved in pathogenic pathways with extraordinary specificity. Natalizumab and alemtuzumab are the only two currently approved mAbs for the treatment of MS, having demonstrated significant reduction in clinical and magnetic resonance imaging disease activity and disability in clinical studies. Ocrelizumab and daclizumab are in the late stages of phase III trials, and several other mAbs are in the early stages of clinical evaluation. mAbs have distinct structural characteristics (e.g. chimeric, humanized, fully human) and unique targets (e.g. blocking interactions, induction of signal transduction by receptor binding, complement-dependent cytotoxicity, antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity) conferring different mechanisms of action in MS. Because of these differences, mAbs for MS do not constitute a single treatment class; each must be considered individually when selecting appropriate therapy. Furthermore, in reviewing the data from clinical studies of mAbs, attention should be drawn to use of different comparators (e.g. placebo or interferon β-1a) and study designs. Each mAb treatment has a unique administration schedule. In the decision to select the appropriate treatment for each individual MS patient, careful review of the benefits relative to risks of mAbs is balanced against the risk of development of MS-associated disability.
Keywords: antibodies; autoimmunity; monoclonal; multiple sclerosis; therapy.