The neuroimmunologist at Clínica Alemana de Santiago and head of the University Center for Multiple Sclerosis at Ramos Mejía Hospital discussed Latin American efforts to understand neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder during the COVID-19 pandemic. [WATCH TIME: 5 minutes]
WATCH TIME: 5 minutes
"The pandemic taught us the importance of global collaboration. Latin support for the COVID-19 resistance was crucial, emphasizing the need for shared data and understanding the risks for patients with NMOSD during a pandemic. Our main focus is treating the disease first. COVID-19 is secondary; the disease stays. We need to keep our patients healthy and maintain their neurological capacities amidst the challenges of the pandemic."
During the COVID-19 pandemic, patients with neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD), a rare autoimmune inflammatory condition of the central nervous system, and their caregivers, were faced with numerous challenges. According to a recent study published in Neurology Neuroimmunology & Neuroinflammation, these challenges included infection prevention, management of infections, and the general restrictions the pandemic imposed on medical care.1 Additionally, several studies explored the severity of COVID-19 infection in patients with NMOSD and immunotherapy, which showed that most patients had a mild disease course.
Experts in Latin American who have patients with NMOSD (LATAM) have also been experiencing challenges in disease management for patients, especially those infected with COVID-19, because of a lack of consensus guidelines. In a recent review, researchers investigated how the disease should be managed and treated among LATAM patients.2 A panel of LATAM experts in demyelinating diseases and NMOSD recommended focusing on diagnosis and differential diagnoses, disease prognosis, and tailored treatment. They also recommended focusing on identification of suboptimal treatment response and special circumstances management, according to published evidence and other expert opinions.
At MSMilan 2023, the 9th Joint ECTRIMS-ACTRIMS meeting, held October 11–13, in Milan, Italy, Lorna Galleguillos, MD, neuroimmunologist at Clínica Alemana de Santiago, in Vitacura, Chile, and Ricardo Alonso MD, MSc, head of the University Center for Multiple Sclerosis, Ramos Mejía Hospital, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, sat down with NeurologyLive® to discuss how the global resistance against COVID-19 in Latin America contributes to advancing the understanding and treatment of NMOSD. Galleguillos and Alonso talked about how the focus on immunosuppressed patients lead to the creation of a valuable registry and a shift in priorities for clinicians. Additionally, the experts talked about how the collaboration between Latin American specialists, with support from foundations, demonstrated the importance of real-world data in empowering clinicians and advancing treatment in NMOSD.