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Current and emerging therapeutics for neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder: Relevance to the COVID-19 pandemic

Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders. VOLUME 44, 102249, SEPTEMBER 01, 2020. Published:June 02, 2020

Hesham Abboud, Crystal Zheng, Indrani Kar, Claire Kaori, Chen Crystal, Sau Alessandro Serra

Neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD) can lead to immobility and bulbar weakness. This, in addition to the older age of onset and the higher rate of hospitalization compared to multiple sclerosis, makes this patient group a potential target for complicated COVID-19 infection. Moreover, many of the commonly used preventive therapies for NMOSD are cell-depleting immunouppsressants with increased risk of viral and bacterial infections. The emergence of several new NMOSD therapeutics, including immune-modulating agents, concurrently with the worldwide spread of the COVID-19 global pandemic call for careful therapeutic planning and add to the complexity of NMOSD management. Altering the common therapeutic approach to NMOSD during the pandemic may be necessary to balance both efficacy and safety of treatment. Selection of preventive therapy should take in consideration the viral exposure risk related to the route and frequency of administration and, most importantly, the immunological properties of each therapeutic agent and its potential impact on the risk of SARS-CoV-2 susceptibility and severity of infection. The impact of the therapeutic agent on the immune response against the future SARS-CoV-2 vaccine should also be considered in the clinical decision-making. In this review, we will discuss the immune response against SARS-CoV-2 and evaluate the potential impact of the current and emerging NMOSD therapeutics on infection risk, infection severity, and future SARS-CoV-2 vaccination. We propose a therapeutic approach to NMOSD during the COVID-19 pandemic based on analysis of the mechanism of action, route of administration, and side effect profile of each therapeutic agent.

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