Multiple Sclerosis News Today has reported the latest therapies, clinical trial developments, and events in multiple sclerosis (MS) on a daily basis throughout the past year. As 2015 comes to an end, here are the year’s 10 articles most widely read by Multiple Sclerosis News Today readers, each with a brief summary of the developments that made them of such interest to MS patients, caregivers and their loved ones.
This study reports the development of a potential MS vaccine by researchers at the Baylor Institute for Immunology Research in Texas. The vaccine is based on blood-derived stem cells that are engineered to become dendritic cells, which are then sensitized with immunogenic proteins known to play a role in MS. Through vaccination, these dendritic cells may prime specific cells of the immune system to attack the immunogenic proteins within the body, suppressing deleterious inflammatory responses.
Three pivotal Phase 3 clinical trials assessing the experimental MS therapy ocrelizumab (Genentech, Roche) revealed that the drug can decrease disease activity and progression in patients with relapsing MS and, remarkably, also in patients with primary progressive MS (PPMS), a debilitating form of the disease with no approved treatments. Ocrelizumab is the first investigational medicine seen to significantly reduce disability progression in relapsing MS and PPMS. Roche is planning to seek marketing authorization for ocrelizumab in both indications.
Anti-LINGO-1 is a medication that restores myelin, the protective sheath covering neurons that is destroyed in MS. Anti-LINGO-1 was shown to help in remyelination and in the repair of the damaged visual system in patients with relapsing MS, specifically those with a condition called acute optic neuritis that is characterized by injury to the optic nerve. Future studies should assess the anti-LINGO-1’s clinical potential in restoring myelin and reducing MS symptoms.
This study suggests that mitochondrial defects, as well as mitochondrial structural and functional changes, may contribute to MS disease development and progression. Researchers believe abnormalities in mitochondrial dynamics impact cellular pathways such as inflammation and demyelination, ultimately contributing to MS pathology. A few therapeutic approaches for MS treatment by targeting the mitochondria are discussed, namely mitoxantrone and mitochondria-targeted antioxidants such as MitoQ.
A study reporting on the discovery of a molecule called MCC950 that could play a pivotal role in inflammatory diseases like MS. MCC950 was found to suppress the “NLRP3 inflammasome,” a key process in inflammatory diseases. Future studies in humans are needed, however, to confirm that this molecule could represent a therapeutic approach for MS.
An article reporting the increasing interest in the “PoNs” stimulator, the first non-invasive means for delivering neurostimulation through the oral cavity. The concept behind the device is that lingual stimulation combined with therapeutic exercise may enable the brain to form new neural pathways and recover motor functions like balance and movement in MS and other neurological conditions.
This report details how patients with active relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS), who had received an experimental high-dose immunosuppressive therapy (HDIT) followed by a transplant of their own hematopoietic stem cells, remained in sustained remission and exhibited improvements in neurological function and quality of life three years after the treatment. The results are a three-year interim analysis of the Phase 2 clinical trial HALT-MS (Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation for Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis). Researchers believe that such stem cell therapy represents a potential therapeutic option, particularly for MS patients unresponsive to conventional immunotherapy.
The article focuses on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warning to the general public and healthcare providers that Tecfidera (dimethyl fumarate, Biogen Idec), one of the leading MS medications, could be associated with the development of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML), a rare and serious brain infection caused by the John Cunningham virus. The FDA required Biogen to include PML-related death on the drug’s label after the death of one MS patient under Tecfidera treatment.
As reported in article No. 8, anti-LINGO-1 is a new treatment option for MS that may directly address the need for protecting neurons and promote remyelination. Apart from repair of the damaged visual system, the therapeutic potential of anti-LINGO-1 in slowing MS progression and improvement of disease symptoms is also being assessed. Phase 1 clinical trials have shown that the therapy to be safe, with no report of serious adverse effects. Phase 2 clinical trials on anti-LINGO-1 are currently being conducted to confirm if it can indeed restore myelination along with physical and cognitive function.
The article focuses on a study from the State University of New York at Buffalo suggesting that an approved medication for bladder problems, called solifenacin, might help to treat MS. Researchers found that solifenacin can act on oligodendrocytes, cells that produce myelin, to promote nerve remyelination.
More welcome news and discoveries in MS are expected in 2016, especially regarding the promising drugs ocrelizumab and anti-LINGO-1, the PoNs device, and therapeutic approaches based on stem cell therapies. Multiple Sclerosis News Today hopes these new developments will ultimately contribute to improvements in the lives of patients living with MS.
We wish all our readers a happy and inspiring 2016.