MS News that Caught My Eye Last Week: Stem Cell Trial, Medical Marijuana, Myelin Repair, Tysabri Study
This is encouraging news for MS patients hoping to see some action in the stem cell area. A Phase 1 mesenchymal stem cell trial is reporting positive results, and a Phase 2 trial is underway in New York. Finally, it seems as if the wheel is turning toward the day when some sort of stem cell treatment will be approved in the U.S. — or at least, we can hope.
A stem cell treatment improved the neurological symptoms of three-fourths of the multiple sclerosis patients in a Phase 1 clinical trial, New York researchers reported.
The results prompted the team at the Tisch MS Research Center of New York to start a Phase 2 trial to further assess the therapy’s safety and effectiveness.
Lots of people with MS are using marijuana to ease their symptoms. You can read about their experiences on dozens of MS internet sites. But like MS, marijuana comes in a lot of varieties. Some strains are relaxing. Some give you quite a buzz. There can be risks as well as benefits, and doctors who prescribe medical marijuana say it’s best to ease into this treatment.
Use of medicinal cannabis may pose risks as it may trigger psychiatric problems, but also because it lacks standardized chemical composition, according to a study published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.
With the legalization of cannabis in some states for medicinal and recreational proposes, additional pressure lies on clinicians who prescribe it. Cannabis use also may hold extra risks for teens and young adults whose brains are still forming, and they may be more susceptible to mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression.
Here’s another study that holds out hope that our damaged myelin can be repaired. It’s only happening in mice and the study involves the sciatic nerve, not MS, but researchers have begun to expand their mice trials. They say if these trials are positive they hope to begin Phase 1 clinical trials in MS patients.
Inhibiting an enzyme responsible for turning genes on and off can reverse damage to the myelin sheath that protects nerve cells, improving limb function, a multiple sclerosis-related study in mice shows.
The research, which involved mice with sciatic nerve damage rather than MS, was published in the journal Nature Medicine. Its title is, “A histone deacetylase 3–dependent pathway delimits peripheral myelin growth and functional regeneration.”
I’m including this report because I’ve seen some people in social media groups who’ve jumped to a wrong conclusion about Tysabri and birth problems. They’ve seen the name of the drug and the words “miscarriage” and “birth defects” and they assume a connection. Yes, the study does report an increased risk comparing the Tysabri group with a control group, but the risk isn’t any greater than in the general population. Read the full story and you’ll see.
Pregnant women with multiple sclerosis (MS) exposed to Tysabri (natalizumab) in the first trimester had higher rates of miscarriage and major birth defects in their babies than women left untreated or treated with interferon beta, a study shows. Although higher, these rates were similar to those in the general population.
Longer periods without treatment before pregnancy, and resuming treatment only a month or more after giving birth, also were found to be associated with increased risk of relapse in mothers with MS.
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