In this MD Newsline exclusive interview with neurologist Dr. Mitzi Williams, we discuss how NMOSD differs from MS. We also discuss Dr. Williams’s treatment strategy for NMOSD.
How does NMOSD differ from multiple sclerosis (MS)?
Dr. Mitzi Williams:
“NMOSD can often be diagnosed with an antibody test, whereas MS cannot. Also, NMOSD primarily affects the optic nerves and spinal cord, resulting in vision problems, motor problems, and numbness and tingling. In some cases, NMOSD can involve the brain, but the lesions look different from those we typically see with MS. With MS, we see a lot more involvement with the brain.”
What is your treatment strategy for NMOSD, and how is it tailored to each patient? Do you use Uplizna and/or Enspryng in your African American patients with the disease?
Dr. Mitzi Williams:
“This is a very exciting time in the field of demyelinating disease because before 5 years ago, we didn’t have any treatments available that were FDA approved for neuromyelitis optica. And so, with the advent of medications such as Uplizna and Enspryng, we now have therapies that we can offer people with NMOSD.
Now, we often still treat with generic drugs, including a drug called rituximab, an anti-B-cell therapy, very similar to one of the therapies we use for MS, called ocrelizumab. So those drugs are still commonly used, but we now have other options, and we use all of those options for our patients with NMOSD.
In terms of tailoring treatment, we do the same thing that we do with our patients with MS. We talk about what are the pros and cons of different therapies. Currently, all of our medications for NMOSD are infusible medications delivered intravenously. So we don’t have the options of pills and home injections like we do for MS, but we’re excited that we now have FDA-approved medications to offer our patients with NMOSD.”
Responses have been condensed and lightly edited.