MS Wrap-up: Rituximab and COVID-19 Risk, New App for Functional Impairment, and More

Here are some of the latest developments in multiple sclerosis (MS) from our sister publication, NeurologyLive®.

Here are some of the latest developments in multiple sclerosis (MS) from our sister publication, NeurologyLive®.

Rituximab Treatment Linked With More Severe COVID-19 Outcomes

Treatment with rituximab was associated with more severe COVID-19 infections and subsequent hospitalizations compared with other disease modifying therapies (DMTs) among those with MS, NeurologyLive® reports.

Data were gleaned from a population-based study in Sweden. Findings were consistent with most previously published reports on the impact of DMTs on severe COVID-19 outcomes in this population.

A total of 292 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in patients with MS were included in the analysis, of which 68 required hospitalization. Of these, 164 patients were being treated with rituximab and 49 required COVID-19–related hospitalization. In comparison, 15 patients treated with other DMTs required hospitalization.

“An interesting observation is that a longer duration of rituximab treatment significantly increased the risk of severe COVID-19 among the MS patients (yearly odds ratio, 1.24; 95% CI, 1.04-1.48),” the authors said.

App Helps Measure MS Functional Impairments

A new Floodlight Proof-of-Concept (PoC) application effectively captured reliable and clinically relevant measurements of functional impairment among individuals with MS over a 24-week period, NeurologyLive® reports. Efficacy results of the sensor-based monitoring tool led researchers to conclude it could be used in clinical research and practice.

The 3 domains measured by the tool are cognition, upper extremity function, and gait and balance. The app was tested on 76 participants with MS and 25 healthy controls, while in patients, intraclass correlation coefficients were moderate or good compared with controls.

Overall, investigators observed good to excellent correlations in the cognitive domain and fair or moderate to good in the upper extremity function domain and gait and balance domain.

Link Between Depression, DMT Use

Results of a nationwide cohort study conducted in Sweden indicate a link may exist between different disease-modifying strategies and the occurrence of depression when treating patients with MS, according to an article published in NeurologyLive®.

Although patients with MS faced subsequent risks of depression depending on the DMTs used, the use of antidepressants or a depression diagnosis showed limited associations with discontinuation of DMTs and MS relapse.

The 8-year long study included 3803 patients with relapsing-remitting MS. Specifically, analyses revealed that compared with patients taking interferons, a lower risk of a depression diagnosis or initiating antidepressants was seen among those taking rituximab. In addition, patients with depression discontinued use of interferon treatment more often than those not diagnosed with depression.

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