MS News That Caught My Eye Last Week: Mavenclad, Steroids, Blood Tests, Laquinimod, MS Diagnosis

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by Ed Tobias |

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Health Canada Approves Merck’s Mavenclad to Treat RRMS

The European Union OK’d Mavenclad back in August. Now, Canada has come on board with approval for this oral MS therapy, which has been reporting very good success at attacking MS. How about the United States joining them? Apparently, it won’t happen anytime soon. The drug manufacturer hasn’t even applied, yet, for approval in the States.

Canadians with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) can now receive Merck’s Mavenclad (cladribine tablets), now that Health Canada has approved Mavenclad as a therapy to reduce the frequency of MS exacerbations and delay disease progression.

Merck expects the drug to be commercially available by early January 2018 throughout Canada, which has the world’s highest MS rate.


Laquinimod Fails to Slow Brain Atrophy and PPMS Progression, Says Developer Active Biotech

The news can’t always be positive about MS DMDs. In this case, Phase-2 trials of Laquinimod failed to mirror the success that was reported in animal trials.

Sweden’s Active Biotech said its experimental therapy Laquinimod failed to meet the primary and secondary objectives of a Phase 2 clinical trial evaluating the drug’s potential to treat primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS).

Laquinimod, also known as Nerventra or ABR-215062, was developed by Active Biotech and Israel’s Teva Pharmaceutical Industries. The drug targets inflammation and degeneration in neurological tissue.


Analysis Suggests Oral Steroids Better than Intravenous Ones for Treating Relapsing MS

This study is reporting what appears to be a trifecta for MS patients who use steroids: less cost, less hassle and results that are the same with a pill as they are with an IV. Now, if scientists could only develop steroids that have no side effects.

Oral steroids may be cheaper, more convenient and less invasive alternatives than intravenous steroids in treating relapses in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients, suggests an analysis of five randomized trials.

Glucocorticoids are recommended as the first line of treatment for MS relapses. Yet recent studies have shown no significant difference between oral methylprednisolone (a steroid) and intravenous methylprednisolone in terms of efficacy and safety.


Blood Test That Helps Predict MS Disease Activity Might Lower Need for MRI Scans, Study Suggests

A little stick for a blood draw instead of an MRI? Now, wouldn’t that be nice? But, not so fast. This is a very interesting read, but the actual diagnostic process is still a long way from becoming a reality, if it ever does.

A blood test may someday replace some of the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans taken by people with multiple sclerosis (MS)  — offering an easy, cheap alternative for monitoring disease activity.

A study by Norway’s University of Bergen found that blood levels of a factor called neurofilament light chain, released from damaged neurons, correlated closely with the appearance of new brain lesions. The levels dropped when patients started treatment.


Mayo Clinic Develops Test to Distinguish Other Demyelinating Diseases from MS

I’m including a fifth item this week (I usually choose just four stories) because of the importance of locking-down an MS diagnosis for patients and the difficulty in doing so. The earlier a diagnosis is made, of course, the earlier an effective treatment can be ordered. So, bravo to Mayo for helping to make that possible.

The Mayo Clinic has developed a test that allows doctors to distinguish other inflammatory demyelinating diseases from multiple sclerosis in the early stages of a disorder.

The test, the first of its kind in the United States, looks for an antibody against a protein known as myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein in the blood. Loss of the protein is associated with inflammatory demyelinating diseases, whose name stems from loss of the myelin protein sheath that protects nerve cells.


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.


Pat Rowbotham avatar

Pat Rowbotham

I told my neurologist, 20 years ago, that a prednisolone drip made no difference whatsoever. At the same time (flare up), my brilliant GP gave me oral dexamethasone which worked much better than oral prednisolone, which begs the question, why don't neurologists know this?

Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Hi Pat,

They should know but some neuros (and some GPs) are better than others. I'm amazed at the lack of knowledge on the part of some neuros that I read about from their patients.



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