Unmet Needs in NMOSD

Mitzi Williams, MD; Mirla Avila, MD; and Michael Levy, MD, PhD, highlight gaps in care in NMOSD therapy.

Michael Yeaman, PhD: With the approved therapies, effort to minimize relapses, and increased focus on treating and managing pain, what’s the area of greatest unmet therapeutic need in NMOSD [neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder]? Mitzi, I’ll start with you.

Mitzi Williams, MD: Repair. My colleagues would definitely agree with this. Certainly, we have therapies that can stop the inflammation and relapses, but we desperately need a way to repair some of the damage that’s done if possible. We have a long way to go where this is concerned.

Michael Yeaman, PhD: Mirla, do you have other thoughts about this point?

Mirla Avila, MD: I couldn’t agree more with Mitzi. We need repair.

Michael Yeaman, PhD: Are you talking about regenerative medicine, remyelinating medicine, ways to restore optic nerve function and repair the spinal cord, and other approaches?

Mirla Avila, MD: That would be the perfect world. We’re a long way from it, but that’s a great area of need.

Michael Yeaman, PhD: Michael, do you want to comment on the need and progress with respect to reparative, regenerative medicine?

Michael Levy, MD, PhD: Now that we have 3 FDA-approved drugs, a lot of our patients believe they’re going to start to feel better, do better, and function better. But these medications aren’t designed for that. They’re designed to prevent the next attack, and all the healing is on the patient to recover. That’s a big burden on them that they often can’t fulfill. We need to do a better job of finding therapies that can repair and restore. For this purpose, we can look to colleagues in other fields, in traumatic spinal cord injury and in multiple sclerosis, where there are attempts to try to repair and recover, whether it’s with stem cell therapies or with treatments that encourage native remyelination. Those are areas that we can take advantage of in the NMO [neuromyelitis optica] patient population.

Michael Yeaman, PhD: Thanks, Michael.

Transcript Edited for Clarity

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