New Study Findings: MS Relapses Less Likely with Rituximab Use

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a neurodegenerative disease that affects about 2.8 million people globally. In MS, the immune system attacks the protective sheath (myelin) that covers nerve fibers and causes communication problems between your brain and the rest of your body. Eventually, the disease can cause permanent damage or deterioration of the nerves.

Recently, a study published in the journal The Lancet in which researchers performed a phase 3 clinical trial and found that patients with MS treated with rituximab were five times less likely to experience relapses compared with those treated with dimethyl fumarate, a commonly used drug in MS treatment. 

Fewer Relapses and Scarring on CNS

For the study, the team included participants from 18 to 50 years with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis diagnosis that had 10 years or less since diagnosis, untreated or only exposed to interferons, and with clinical or neuroradiological disease activity in the last year. 

A total of 200 participants were included in the study that was randomly assigned to the treatment group and received rituximab (100), or to the control group that received dimethyl fumarate. 

The team found that patients with MS that received 1,000 mg at baseline followed by 500 mg every 6 months were superior to dimethyl fumarate in preventing relapses over 24 months in patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. 

Additionally, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) showed that patients receiving rituximab had fewer new MS plaques or areas of scarring on the central nervous system. According to the researchers, the medication lowers the relapse risk by helping to eliminate B-lymphocytes in the blood.


Corrie Pelc. (2022, Jul 19). MS relapses 5 times less likely with lymphoma drug, trial shows. Medical News Today. Retrieved from:

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