Rituximab to Treat Neuropathy With Anti-MAG Antibodies

2014-08-27 03:55:39 | BioPortfolio


This study will test the safety and effectiveness of the drug Rituximab in treating a nerve disease called MGUS (also known as neuropathy with anti-MAG antibodies). Patients with MGUS have an abnormal protein called monoclonal IgM immunoglobulin that attacks the myelin sheath (protective coating) of nerves, causing them to not function properly. The disease affects the nerves in the legs or arms, and patients have numbness, tingling, muscle weakness, and unsteady gait. There are no adequate treatments. Immunosuppressive drugs or human immunoglobulin infusions can produce mild and transient improvement, but the benefits of these therapies are not significant.

The abnormal immunoglobulin protein in MGUS is produced by white cells called B lymphocytes. Rituximab is approved to treat B cell lymphomas. Also, the drug showed promise in a recent study of patients with demyelinating neuropathy associated with production of antibodies from B lymphocytes directed against certain nerve proteins. Although the number of patients treated with Rituximab was small, the drug was well tolerated and caused significant improvement in several of the patients.

Patients 25 years of age and older with MGUS may be eligible for this 2-year study. Candidates will be screened with a medical history, physical and neurological examinations, and blood tests.

Participants will be randomly assigned to receive intravenous (through a vein) infusions of either Rituximab or placebo (a solution that looks like Rituximab but has no active ingredient) once a week for 4 consecutive weeks. In addition, they will undergo the following tests and procedures:

- Monthly follow-up visits following Rituximab treatment for repeat physical and neurological examinations, blood tests, muscle strength measurements, and review of signs and symptoms.

- Two sessions of lymphapheresis, one at the beginning of the study and one a year later-to collect lymphocytes. For this procedure, whole blood is drawn through a needle in an arm vein, much like donating a unit of blood. The blood then flows through a catheter (plastic tube) into a cell separating machine, where the white blood cells are extracted and removed. The red cells and plasma are then returned to the body through a needle in the other arm. The procedure takes about 60 to 90 minutes.

- Electrophysiologic studies (electromyography and nerve conduction testing) are done once at the beginning of the study and again one year later. For electromyography, a small needle is inserted into a few muscles and the patient is asked to relax or to contract the muscles. The electrical activity of the muscle cells is recorded and analyzed by a computer. For nerve conduction testing, nerves are stimulated through small wire electrodes attached to the skin and the response is recorded and analyzed.

If this study indicates that Rituximab is beneficial against MGUS, patients who were assigned to receive placebo during the trial will be offered treatment with Rituximab (four weekly infusions) at the end of the study.


This study will examine the safety, tolerability, and efficacy of the humanized monoclonal antibody Rituximab to induce a clinical and serological remission in patients with IgM-anti-glycoconjugate antibody-mediated demyelinating neuropathy. Rituximab is a monoclonal antibody specific for the common B cell antigen CD20. Its administration depletes pre-B and mature B lymphocytes without altering neutrophils or hematopoietic stem cells. In humans with indolent B cell lymphomas, Rituximab can be safely administered, is well tolerated, promotes selective B cell depletion and lowers the serum IgM levels. Preliminary experience in some patients with demyelinating polyneuropathy and IgM-anti-glycolipid antibodies has shown that Rituximab was beneficial in improving the patient's symptoms and reducing the anti IgM antibody levels. In the present study we will examine in a placebo randomized trial the efficacy of Rituximab in patients with polyneuropathy related to IgM-anti-glycolipid antibodies. Twenty-six patients will be randomized to receive placebo or Rituximab given at four weekly intravenous infusions of 375 mg/M(2). The primary outcome will be based on changes in the monthly measurements of the neuropathy scores. The fine specificities of the IgM antibodies to various glycoconjugates or differences in the affinity binding to various antigens in neural membranes will be explored before and after treatment. It is anticipated that the study will: a) provide a new, immune-based and target-oriented therapy for patients with this neuropathy and b) examine the pathogenic role of these antibodies in the cause of the disease.

Study Design

Primary Purpose: Treatment






National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, 9000 Rockville Pike
United States




National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC)

Results (where available)

View Results


Published on BioPortfolio: 2014-08-27T03:55:39-0400

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Medical and Biotech [MESH] Definitions

Diseases of multiple peripheral nerves simultaneously. Polyneuropathies usually are characterized by symmetrical, bilateral distal motor and sensory impairment with a graded increase in severity distally. The pathological processes affecting peripheral nerves include degeneration of the axon, myelin or both. The various forms of polyneuropathy are categorized by the type of nerve affected (e.g., sensory, motor, or autonomic), by the distribution of nerve injury (e.g., distal vs. proximal), by nerve component primarily affected (e.g., demyelinating vs. axonal), by etiology, or by pattern of inheritance.

A murine-derived monoclonal antibody and ANTINEOPLASTIC AGENT that binds specifically to the CD20 ANTIGEN and is used in the treatment of LEUKEMIA; LYMPHOMA and RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS.

Six-carbon saturated hydrocarbon group of the methane series. Include isomers and derivatives. Various polyneuropathies are caused by hexane poisoning.

A multisystemic disorder characterized by a sensorimotor polyneuropathy (POLYNEUROPATHIES), organomegaly, endocrinopathy, monoclonal gammopathy, and pigmentary skin changes. Other clinical features which may be present include EDEMA; CACHEXIA; microangiopathic glomerulopathy; pulmonary hypertension (HYPERTENSION, PULMONARY); cutaneous necrosis; THROMBOCYTOSIS; and POLYCYTHEMIA. This disorder is frequently associated with osteosclerotic myeloma. (From Adams et al., Principles of Neurology, 6th ed, p1335; Rev Med Interne 1997;18(7):553-62)

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