MS News That Caught My Eye This Week: Brain Scans, Spasticity, Tecfidera Study and Cigarettes

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by Ed Tobias |

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In case you missed them, here are some news stories that appeared in MS News Today that caught my eye over the past week.


Harvard Study Finds No Link Between Clinical Exams and MRIs in Some MS Patients

I’m really not surprised at this, because this study confirms much of what I’ve been living with for many years: good looking brain MRIs, but poorly performing legs. Jose Marques Lopes’ article explains why this disparity creates a problem for doctors, as well as for patients.

Physical disability may have no link to brain lesion volume in some patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), concludes a recent study led by Dr. Rohit Bakshi, a neurology and radiology professor at Harvard Medical School.

Clinical exams and a brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan are two common strategies to determine disease severity in MS. Although the results of assessing disease severity using both measures are similar in most patients, some patients show clinical/MRI dissociation, complicating their prognosis.


FDA Expands Dysport’s Approval for Treatment of Lower Limb Spasticity in Adults

Two out of three MS patients are expected to develop spasticity in their legs. I’m one of them so, naturally, news that another drug has been OK’d to treat this problem is of interest to me. Dysport, sold by Ipsen, is an injectable that was approved for use by some pediatric patients with lower limb spasticity. Now it’s approved for adults with MS and number of other diseases. But there are side-effect warnings you need to know about, so be sure to read through to the end of Alice Melão’s article.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has expanded approval of Dysport (abobotulinumtoxinA) for treatment of spasticity in adults, a condition that affects many people in the United States, including multiple sclerosis patients. The decision was based on Dysport’s supplemental Biologics License Application (sBLA) in lower limb spasticity and Phase 3 clinical study results.

“Adult patients who have developed spasticity as a result of a stroke, Multiple Sclerosis, Cerebral Palsy, spinal cord injury, or traumatic brain injury now have another option when seeking treatment that helps reduce the effects of the increased muscle tone in their lower extremities,” Alexandre Lebeaut, MD, Ipsen’s executive vice president of research and development and chief scientific officer, said in a press release.


Tecfidera Improves MS Patients’ Work Productivity, Compared with Other Therapies, Study Shows

This seems like good news for MS patients who use, or are considering, Tecfidera … right? But, hold the phone. If you click through the link in this story to read the full study, and scroll down to the very end where it says “Disclosures,” you’ll find that three of the study’s authors work for, and are stockholders in, Biogen. Other authors work for the company that Biogen paid to conduct the study. And Biogen is the pharmaceutical company that makes Tecfidera (as well as Avonex). So, even if the study is totally accurate, you should be aware that its authors could benefit, financially, from it.

Multiple sclerosis patients taking Tecfidera, or dimethyl fumarate, were more productive at work than those on Copaxone or beta-interferon therapies, according to a study. Tecfidera also increased patients’ quality of life, researchers said.

The study covered patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis, or RRMS. The four beta-interferon treatments were Avonex, Betaseron, Rebif, and Extavia. Those therapies and Copaxone, or glatiramer acetate, are collectively known as ABCREs.


Cigarette Smoking Doesn’t Speed Up Disease Progression in PPMS, Canadian Study Suggests

Some previous studies have shown that cigarette smoking increases someone’s risk of developing MS, of reaching levels 4 to 6 on the Expanded Disability Status Scale, and of developing MS lesions. Now here’s a study that shows that smoking doesn’t speed your MS progression. It grabbed my interest because, in the view of this layman, how in the world can this knowledge benefit anyone? Maybe you’ll see some justification for this study when you read Patricia Inacio‘s article. If you do, please let me know.

Cigarette smoking is certainly no good for you, but it may not necessarily make your primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS) worse, finds a new study

The study, “Smoking does not influence disability accumulation in primary progressive multiple sclerosis,” appeared in the European Journal of Neurology. It contradicts what was previously reported for relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) patients — suggesting that the underlying mechanisms driving these two manifestations of MS are different.


Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.


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