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JAMA Dermatol. 2014 Dec;150(12):1331-5.

Subcutaneous veltuzumab, a humanized anti-CD20 antibody, in the treatment of refractory pemphigus vulgaris.


IMPORTANCE B-cell depletion with the anti-CD20 antibody rituximab is highly effective for pemphigus vulgaris (PV) treatment. However,most patients experience relapse, and intravenous rituximab infusions are expensive. Therefore, cost-effective anti-CD20 therapies are desirable.OBSERVATIONS A compassionate-use investigational new drug protocol was approved to administer veltuzumab, a second-generation humanized anti-CD20 antibody, to a patient with refractory PV. Veltuzumab was administered as two 320-mg (188mg/m2) subcutaneous doses 2 weeks apart, resulting in complete remission of disease off therapy. The disease relapsed 2 years after treatment. A second cycle of subcutaneous veltuzumab, using the same dosage regimen, again induced complete remission off therapy, which remained at9 months. No serious adverse events occurred during 35 months of follow-up. Serum veltuzumab levels were 22 and 29 μg/mL 2 weeks after the first dose of each cycle, and the drug remained detectable in the serum for longer than 3 months. Relapse and response to veltuzumab generally correlated with desmoglein 3 enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay index values. Shortly after a relapse that occurred after a long-term remission, the patient demonstrated an elevated naive (CD19+CD27−) to memory (CD19+CD27+) B-cell ratio of 19.5 and transitional (CD19+CD24+CD38+) B-cell frequency of 12.5%.CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE Subcutaneous veltuzumab may be a safe, effective, and more economical alternative to intravenous rituximab for PV therapy. Clinical trials of subcutaneous veltuzumab for PV are warranted.

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