MS News that Caught My Eye Last Week: Mediterranean Diet, Medical Marijuana, Ocrevus, Myelin Repair

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by Ed Tobias |

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Pilot Study Is Testing Whether Mediterranean Diet Can Help MS Patients

There’s been a good deal of news recently about the possibility that bacteria in our stomachs have an impact on our MS. There’s also been talk, for a long time, about whether certain diets can improve MS symptoms. This study combines the two theories, looking at whether a specific diet, the Mediterranean diet, impacts gut bacteria and the role they may play in the inflammation and nerve cell degeneration seen in autoimmune disorders like MS. This small study began in January and is due to end in April.

New York researchers are doing a pilot study of whether a Mediterranean diet can reduce multiple sclerosis symptoms and improve patients’ quality of life.

Dr. Ilana B. Katz Sand, an assistant professor of neurology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, is leading the research. She is also the associate medical director of the Corinne Goldsmith Dickinson Center for Multiple Sclerosis.


Medical Cannabis Found to Safely Reduce Chronic Pain in Older Patients in Study

Less pain, fewer falls, a reduction in the use of prescription meds, and improved quality of life. With results like that, and since I meet the study’s definition of “older,” this was a must-read for me. I bet you’ll be interested, too, no matter what your age is.

Medical cannabis was found to safely and significantly reduce chronic pain in older patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) and a wide range of other conditions, researchers in Israel report.

Led by scientists at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) and the Cannabis Clinical Research Institute at Soroka University Medical Center, the study was published in the European Journal of Internal Medicine under the title “Epidemiological characteristics, safety and efficacy of medical cannabis in the elderly.”


New Ocrevus Data, Post-FDA Approval, Supports Range of Benefits, Genentech’s Hideki Garren Says

This statement comes from an interview with a top scientist at the company that manufacturers Ocrevus (ocrelizumab), so you have to consider the source. However, as the first anniversary of its FDA approval approaches, interest in Ocrevus remains very high. And word-of-mouth from Ocrevus patients on social media seems to be as positive as what’s reported in this story.

Ocrevus (ocrelizumab), Genentech’s humanized anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody, continues to show clear evidence that it helps to slow disease progression and enable better function — including in the hands and limbs — of relapsing multiple sclerosis (MS) and primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS), latest data reveals.

As the first FDA-approved therapy — in March 2017 — tackling both MS forms, Ocrevus was quickly considered a “game-changing MS treatment.” Last week, Multiple Sclerosis News Today interviewed Dr. Hideki Garren, Genentech’s group medical director of product development neuroscience, about current views and the data collected to date on the therapy’s effectiveness.


University at Buffalo to Do Cognitive Training and Myelin Repair Studies

These two studies are just getting underway so it’ll be a while before we hear any results. They began last year and run through 2020. But the subjects, improving cognitive functioning by using training and finding a way to repair myelin, are two that always spark my interest. So, I read this just to see what’s up.

University at Buffalo researchers are working on ways to improve multiple sclerosis patients’ cognitive function and to repair damage to the myelin coating that protects nerve cells.

One study, “The Effects of Working Memory Training on Brain Function, Structure, and Cognition in MS,” will look at whether two neuroscience-based training programs can improve MS patients’ cognitive function.

The second project is a three-year study on the potential of blocking enzymes called sulfatases to repair the myelin coating that is damaged in MS. The title of the project is “Targeting Extracellular Sulfatases to Accelerate Oligodendrocyte Progenitor-Based Myelin Repair and Regeneration.”


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.


Suzy Fivecoat avatar

Suzy Fivecoat

I feel we have a REAL chance to improve our RX situation in current healthcare reform efforts if WE SPEAK UP. We need to unite to educate Congress of the "predatory" pricing practices which double victimize us. I faxed each US sitting Senator the following information but my voice alone is small. Please join me in this critical cause.URGENT HEALTH CARE ISSUE FACING AN ESTIMATED 1 MILLION AMERICANS

The Multiple Sclerosis Society in October 2017 estimates that 1 million people in the U.S are victims of MS, with 200 new cases diagnosed each week. Debilitating symptoms of this invasive disease include the disruption of many BASIC human bodily functions that most take for granted like swallowing, walking, coordination, balance, seeing clearly, unassisted bowel and bladder functioning, as well as the critical brain functions of reasoning, problem-solving, very (as in 5 minutes) short-term memory, and organizing thoughts and information. Worst for me are pain, extreme fatigue; and very worst is constant RINGING IN MY EARS and overactive bladder that needs to be emptied with a catheter every 2 hours at night. I enjoy absolutely NO respite from the ravages of MS, day or night.

The most widely-used M.S. medication, Copaxone, cannot EVER reverse these devouring impacts on our quality of life but has been shown to inhibit further disease progression. Although they can NEVER give us back what we have lost, MS drugs are about as essential to those of us struggling to cope with this destructive disease as insulin is to a diabetic or the Epi-pen is to someone allergic to peanuts. My own allergy to the generic version (Glatopa) has caused scar tissue to form which prohibits future needle insertion in several localized skin areas, forcing me to revert back to using the more expensive Copaxone.

While the public was rightfully outraged at the recent 100% price increase of the Epi-pen, nothing has been publicized about the absolutely blatant astronomical price escalation of MS drugs! Copaxone's cost alone has escalated by more than 900 %!! Yes, more than 900 %!! In 1996 when first introduced, the ANNUAL cost of Copaxone was $8,292.37. My husband’s employer-sponsored HMO, with my Medicare insurance has been paying the jaw-dropping current retail MONTHLY price of $6,373.88, or $76,486.56 per year!!! WHY??? What will we do when he retires in two years? We can’t afford that!

The National MS Society is “spot on” by saying,

“Medications can only change lives if people can access them.”
Daniel Hartung, of Oregon State University stated, “Pharmaceutical companies raise prices of new and old MS disease modifying therapies in the United States to increase profits, and our healthcare system puts no limits on these increases…The U.S. Medicare program, the largest single-payer healthcare system in the U.S., is legally prohibited from negotiating drug prices directly with the pharmaceutical industry.” Again I ask, WHY???

Also reported is the fact that U.S. prices for MS drugs are two to three times the price of the very same drugs in Canada or elsewhere in the United Kingdom. Once again I ask, WHY???

We critically need appropriate pharmaceutical pricing guidelines as an essential element within current proposed healthcare reform in order to end drug companies’ further victimization of MS victims. I assure you, that being once victimized by this devastating disease by itself is much more than enough!


Holly-Buffalo, NY avatar

Holly-Buffalo, NY

I was left without medications for 5 months this past January because of the nightmare this new administration caused. Trump and his posse have vowed to "streamline" our healthcare system to cut costs. It's all about big business and this President thinks this country can be run like a business. He has been a colossal failure as a businessman and now has turned his sights on this country. My meds skyrocketed from a $10 co-pay to $8,000 per month! I have two forms of insurance and a new prescription plan operated by Walgreens.

After working closely with the drug manufacturer, and having advocates closely navigating this process for me, I was finally able to get the meds for an affordable co-pay.

I am in full support of any and all healthcare initiatives that former President Obama set in motion. No one should be denied insurance because of a pre-existing condition. Premiums and medications should be affordable and simple to get.

In this country, all children are entitled to an education, however, they are not entitled to healthcare. Since when is healthcare a privilege and not a right?

This year's mid-term election is crucial. Everyone had better get up and get out. Code: Blue

Patricia J. Barrett avatar

Patricia J. Barrett

Please HELP all of us with this DEVESTATING disease!! I was diagnosed with SPMS it has been very difficult and painful!!!! I CANNOT work my abilities are gone!!!! It is so difficult 24-7. I am going on 12 YEAR’S with this HORRIBLE disease! ALL of us with this HORRIBLE DISEASE need help I know I definitely DO!! I am on my own and I want my QUALITY of life back before I DIE……PLEASE HELP!!!! I as ALL of us with this HORRIBLE DISEASE CANNOT AFFORD THE COST of RX’S needed daily because their disease!! I understand if an individual goes to college and learns how to make the RX’S needed for this HORRIBLE DISEASE should be paid well although the individuals struggling with this horrible disease should not have to lose everything they worked hard for all they’re lives……. Someone PLEASE HELP us ……it’s just the right thing to do. Thank You


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