You may have heard of the new treatment for multiple sclerosis called Kesimpta. If you’ve explored MS treatments, you might be wondering if Kesimpta is worth knowing about. This blog post will answer your questions about this new treatment so you can decide if it’s right for you.
This new MS treatment uses a drug (called imatinib) to target and kill immune cells that attack nerve fibers in your body. When the immune cells are eliminated, there is less damage to your nerves.
There are currently five clinical trials that are testing different kinds of Kesimpta treatments for people with relapsing-remitting or secondary progressive MS. To understand if Kesimpta is right for you, let’s explore what it is, how it works, and when we can expect to see results from clinical trials testing its effectiveness as a MS treatment.
What is Kesimpta?
Kesimpta stands for “kidney” followed by the name of the drug “imatinib”. It’s an oral medication that treats MS by targeting and destroying harmful immune cells called autoreactive lymphocytes, which are responsible for damaging nerve fibers in the brain, spinal cord, and eyes. When these immune cells are killed off, less damage is done to the surrounding nerves.
When the kidneys receive a large amount of imatinib, they turn into a filter where they remove the drug from the blood. The filtered imatinib is then excreted in the urine. Scientists named this treatment Kesimpta because the kidneys are the organs that receive the highest concentration of imatinib.
How does Kesimpta Work?
Researchers believe that some people with MS have a faulty immune system that mistakenly attacks the insulation surrounding their nerve fibers, causing damage to the nerves themselves. Kesimpta targets and kills immune cells that are attacking the nerve fibers in the brain, spinal cord, and eyes. This treatment does not work for everyone; only about a third of people who try it experience improvement.
Kesimpta works by inhibiting the activity of a protein called “tyrosine kinase” (an enzyme used by immune cells to signal one another). The medication binds to the tyrosine kinase enzyme, stopping the immune cells from communicating with each other and wreaking havoc on the nerve fibers in your body.
When Will We Know if Kesimpta Works?
Several clinical trials are underway to test the effectiveness of Kesimpta as a treatment for MS. Each trial has a different goal and timeline for testing the effectiveness of Kesimpta:
Kesimpta Phase III Clinical Trial: This trial is designed to test the effectiveness of Kesimpta as a treatment for people with relapsing-remitting MS who have not responded to two or more other MS treatments. This is the largest and longest clinical trial of Kesimpta. The first participants were enrolled in 2015 and the trial is not scheduled to end until 2023.
Kesimpta Phase II Clinical Trials: These trials test different doses of Kesimpta in people with primary or secondary progressive MS. These trials are also testing ways to deliver the drug directly to the brain to target the immune cells that are attacking nerve fibers in the brain. The goal of these clinical trials is to improve the effectiveness of Kesimpta by increasing the number of immune cells that are killed off while decreasing the number of side effects that people experience while taking the drug.
Mild to moderate nausea and vomiting: This is the most common side effect of Kesimpta. People who take the highest dose of Kesimpta are more likely to experience nausea and vomiting than people who take lower doses.
Loss of appetite: This is another common side effect of Kesimpta. People who take the highest doses of Kesimpta are more likely to experience a loss of appetite than people who take lower doses.
Fatigue: Kesimpta can cause fatigue in some people. The fatigue caused by Kesimpta is mild and is usually temporary. The fatigue may be caused by the drug’s effect on the kidneys, which filters the drug out of the blood and into the urine.
Long-Term Effects of Kesimpta Treatment
Kidney damage: The most serious long-term side effect of Kesimpta is kidney damage. The kidneys filter the drug out of the blood and into the urine, so they take the biggest hit when someone takes the highest dose of Kesimpta. The amount of time that the drug stays in the blood determines the amount of damage to the kidneys. The shorter amount of time the drug is in the blood, the lower the risk of kidney damage.
Thyroid damage: Taking Kesimpta can also damage the thyroid gland, especially if someone has an underactive thyroid gland to begin with. People with hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) are more likely to sustain thyroid damage from Kesimpta. They should be monitored closely by their doctor during treatment because thyroid damage can be serious.
Final Words: Is Kesimpta right for you?
Remember, Kesimpta is not a cure for MS. It’s a treatment that can slow down or stop the progression of the disease in some people. It’s important to know that Kesimpta will not work for everyone. If you’re considering Kesimpta as a treatment option, you should have a frank discussion with your doctor about the benefits and risks of the treatment. Only then can you decide if it’s right for you.