Ampyra (dalfampridine), approved to treat walking difficulties in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients, also helps with cognition and movement in the upper and lower extremities, according to a recent scientific presentation.
These findings were reported at the 3rd Annual Americas Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ACTRIMS) Forum 2018 in San Diego, California this month, in a poster titled “Extremities and Cognition: Fampridine Effect.”
Approved in 2010 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and marketed by Acorda Therapeutics, Ampyra has been shown to significantly improve walking ability in patients with MS. (In Europe and elsewhere outside the U.S., it is sold by Biogen under the brand name Fampyra (fampridine), in an agreement with Acorda.)
Researchers at Dokuz Eylul University, in Turkey, evaluated the effectiveness of fampridine (Fampyra/Ampyra) on MS symptoms besides walking.
Recruited from an outpatient MS clinic at the university’s hospital, 134 walking-impaired patients were treated with fampridine and results compared to 77 healthy individuals also in the study. Neurological, physical and cognitive evaluations were performed at its start and again after six months.
MS patients with cognitive impairment had significantly worse performance in several of the physical tests compared to patients without cognition problems.
At baseline, or study start, the researchers found a strong correlation between upper extremity abilities (assessed through the 9-Hole Peg Test) and the results of two cognitive assessment tests — the symbol digit modalities test (SDMT; assessing organic cerebral dysfunction) and the paced auditory serial addition test (PASAT).
At six months of treatment, patients showed significant improvements in both physical and cognitive parameters. But physical improvement was found to be more pronounced in those with no baseline cognitive impairment.
Still, both patient groups, with and without cognitive difficulties, had a similar response on physical tests.
The researchers concluded that “fampridine has positive effects on cognitive, upper and lower extremity functions” in MS patients with impaired walking. In addition, these results demonstrated that cognitive function is “associated with both upper and lower extremity functions,” they wrote, and “this association was more prominent in information processing speed.”
Overall, this study further demonstrated the long-term benefits of Ampyra/Fampyra on physical performance in MS patients, and added new insights into cognitive function in this patient population.