MS News That Caught My Eye This Week: Older Therapies and Cancer, New Gut Study, Ocrevus in Canada

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by Ed Tobias |

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Older Immunosuppressants May Increase MS Patients’ Cancer Risk, Study Reports

We’re talking about some pretty harsh immunosuppressant drugs here: azathioprine, mitoxantrone, and possibly cyclophosphamide. Unlike newer drugs, targeted to specific cells, these knocked out an entire spectrum of immune cells when they were administered. If you’ve used one of these drugs, you’ll want to read Magdalena Kegel‘s report.

The risk of people with multiple sclerosis developing cancer is higher if they have used immunosuppressants than if they haven’t, according to a study that followed more than 1,000 patients for a decade.

The findings indicate that the often discussed association between MS and cancer may stem from older types of MS treatments, rather than from the disease itself.


Human Gut Microbes May Help Suppress MS, New Research Suggests

A new study is adding weight to other research that indicates what goes on in your belly may impact what’s happening with your MS. Patricia Inacio provides a more scientific explanation of what this mouse study has revealed.

A bacteria present in the gut, called Prevotella histicola, prevented MS from developing in a preclinical mouse model, researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, along with colleagues at the University of Iowa, found.

Their study, “Human Gut-Derived Commensal Bacteria Suppress CNS Inflammatory and Demyelinating Disease,” appeared in the journal Cell Reports.


Ocrevus Approved in Canada to Treat Relapsing-Remitting MS

Canadian authorities have approved Ocrevus to treat Relapsing MS but, as Patricia Inacio reports, the approval didn’t include use for the treatment of primary progressive MS. That seems strange for a drug that in the U.S. was the first DMT to receive approval to treat both the relapsing, and the primary progressive forms. I wonder why. (And I bet Canadian neurologists will prescribe Ocrevus for PPMS patients, even without that use being approved by Health Canada).

The federal agency Health Canada approved Ocrevus (ocrelizumab) for the treatment of adults with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) with active disease, Roche Canada announced.

The approval followed the positive results from the Phase 3 OPERA studies, which evaluated the safety and efficacy of Ocrevus in 825 patients with RRMS. The OPERA I (NCT01247324) and OPERA II (NCT01412333) trials showed that Ocrevus significantly reduced disease activity and disability progression of RRMS patients, with annual relapse rates falling by almost half (46% and 47% in OPERA I and II, respectively).

The treatment’s approval, however, did not extend to — or mention — people with primary progressive MS (PPMS), in contrast to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) action in March, which approved Ocrevus for both MS forms. Health Canada did not give address PPMS in its announcement.


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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