Thanks for getting this board up and running. For me, at least, it's a very welcome addition...
Had my second Rituxan infusion on September 19, and went for a follow-up blood work today.
For those of use who don't know me, I was diagnosed PPMS in May of 2003. At that time I symptoms were primarily slight weakness in my right leg. Now, five and half years later, my right arm and leg are profoundly weak and spastic, and my left side is weakening as well. I also suffer the full range of other MS related symptoms, such as bladder and bowel problems, autonomic nervous system dysfunction, etc.
My presentation is atypical, as my MRIs have always shown only two lesions, one small one in my brain, and another large one in my upper cervical spine, at the base of the brain stem. These lesions have remained unchanged for 5 1/2 years, and the comparison between an MRI taken in 2003 and one taken this summer would show them to be identical. My lumbar punctures have also always come back clear, so my diagnosis is based on the clinical observations of my doctor.
As for the Rituxan, I suffered slight flulike symptoms for about a week after each of the two infusions. It's still too early to tell what effect the drug will have, my neurologist tells me it will take at least a month or two to see if it's having any beneficial effect.
As others have mentioned, Rituxan depletes the body's immune system and B cells. My neurologist' s research has indicated that it also has some effect on the ability of T cells to cross the blood brain barrier.
Keep in mind also, that Epstein-Barr virus, which is often implicated in the MS disease process, resides in B cells in its dormant state in the human body. Therefore, by reducing or eliminating a patients supply of B cells, Rituxan also diminishes the load of EBV a patient carries.
Hope to be reporting some positive news soon. Rituxan is just about my last chance to fend off the ravages of this disease. I've tried almost everything else, to no avail...