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Neuromyelitis Optica & MOG Antibody Disorder Treatment & Research Program

Experts at the Neuromyelitis Optica and MOG Antibody Disorder Treatment and Research Program, part of NYU Langone’s Multiple Sclerosis Comprehensive Care Center, provide treatment, counseling, and education for people with these conditions and their families.

Neuromyelitis optica, also known as neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD), is an autoimmune condition that causes the body to harm otherwise healthy tissue. Damage is usually caused by aquaporin-4 antibody, also known as NMO antibody. NMO antibodies can damage the optic nerves, spinal cord, and sometimes the brain if the condition is left untreated. Myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein antibody associated disorder (MOGAD) is a recently described autoimmune disease that may resemble NMOSD, but requires a different treatment.

NMOSD is a rare disorder affecting approximately 16,000 people in the United States. MOGAD is similarly rare. Our doctors provide treatment for people with NMOSD and MOG antibody syndromes.

NMOSD and MOG antibody syndromes are often mistaken for multiple sclerosis (MS), a more common central nervous system autoimmune disorder that has similar neurologic symptoms. Standard MS treatments can worsen NMOSD and MOG antibody syndromes, so accurate diagnosis is very important. If proper treatment is started soon after symptoms onset, prolonged remission that stops the disease from progressing is realistic.

The Neuromyelitis Optica and MOG Antibody Disorder Treatment and Research Program is led by Ilya Kister, MD, who has extensive experience treating patients with NMOSD and MOGAD, and is a leader in research into these conditions.

Diagnosing NMOSD

Diagnosing NMOSD and MOGAD starts with a detailed history of the person’s symptoms. During an NMOSD attack, or relapse, people with the condition might experience eye pain; vision loss; numbness, weakness, or paralysis in the arms and legs; and loss of bladder and bowel control.

A neurologic examination is performed to determine whether relapse has occurred. If NMOSD relapse is suspected, an MRI scan of the brain, optic nerve, and spinal cord might be performed to look for the hallmark lesions of the disease. NMO and MOG antibodies will be tested with blood tests that are usually sent out to specialized laboratory.

Treatment for NMOSD and MOGAD

Care for people with NMOSD and MOG syndromes is provided by our dedicated team, which includes neurologists, neuro-ophthalmologists, a neuro-urologist, nurse coordinators, social workers, occupational therapists, and psychologists.

The key to preventing disability in NMOSD and MOGAD is in preventing relapses. Currently there are three U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)–approved therapies for NMOSD—satralizumab (brand name: Enspryng), eculizumab (Soliris), and inebilizumab (Uplizna). In addition, our doctors have extensive experience with off-label therapies that are highly effective such as rituximab (Rituxan) and tocilizumab (Actemra).

For MOGAD relapse prevention, there are no FDA-approved treatments. Several medications are used off label, including intravenous immunoglobulins, subcutaneous immunoglobulins, and oral immunosuppressant drugs such as mycophenolate mofetil (CellCept). Our center is currently participating in a clinical trial, which, if successful, could lead to approval of new drug for MOGAD.

During relapse, we prescribe intravenous steroids to help speed recovery. This is often combined with plasmapheresis, which is a way to remove disease-triggering antibodies from the blood.

People with NMOSD and MOGAD may experience symptoms caused by damage to the nervous tissue. A variety of medications, as well as non-medication approaches, are available to alleviate common symptoms of these diseases.

Infusion therapies can be provided at the infusion centers at NYU Langone Orthopedic Center, NYU Langone Ambulatory Care Center East 38th Street, and other NYU Langone–affiliated infusion sites. For relapses requiring inpatient care, specialized care is provided at Tisch Hospital. Expert inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation therapy is available at Rusk Rehabilitation.

Clinical Research in NMOSD and MOGAD

NYU Langone doctors are among the leaders in clinical research into better treatments for this rare disorder, and have published widely on the subject of NMOSD.

Our patients can contribute to research into NMOSD through clinical trials. We are currently participating in Meteoroid, clinical trial into a promising new treatment for MOGAD called satralizumab.

To learn more about our research program, please email Dr. Kister at Ilya.Kister@NYULangone.org.

Neuromyelitis Optica Patient Day

The MS Comprehensive Care Center hosts an annual NYU Langone Health Neuromyelitis Optica Patient Day. For details on our next event, please email Dr. Kister at ilya.kister@nyulangone.org.

Contact Us

To make an appointment for an evaluation by one of our experts at the Neuromyelitis Optica and MOG Antibody Disorder Treatment and Research Program, please call 646-501-7500. To learn more about our research or for other questions, please contact Dr. Kister at Ilya.Kister@NYULangone.org.