New Treatment for Rare Form of Encephalitis

“Anti-NMDA-receptor encephalitis” is an inflammatory disease that affects the central nervous system. It is a rare autoimmune disease that results in the body producing antibodies against the NMDA receptor (image), a protein that plays an important role in signal transduction in the brain. Using a new treatment regimen, researchers from Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin and the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) have recorded significant progress in treating the disease, including in patients who did not previously respond to treatment. Results from this study were published online on December 21, 2016 in the journal Neurology. The article is titled “Bortezomib for Treatment of Therapy-Refractory Anti-NMDA Receptor Encephalitis.” Anti-NMDA-receptor encephalitis is a serious autoimmune disease. It is characterized by an inflammation of the brain, which can result in neurological and psychiatric symptoms, including psychoses, epileptic seizures, and movement disorders. Standard treatments currently available are often either inadequate or ineffective in patients with severe forms of the disease. This treatment resistance may be caused by certain anti-NMDA-receptor antibody-producing plasma cells that remain inaccessible to current immunotherapies. In a study led by Dr. Franziska Scheibe and Professor Dr. Andreas Meisel from the Department of Neurology and the NeuroCure Cluster of Excellence, Charité-based researchers recorded outcomes obtained using a new treatment regimen. In addition to standard treatment, patients received bortezomib, a drug known as a proteasome inhibitor that has proven successful in treating patients with plasmacytoma, a specific type of blood cancer.
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